From the dream-like landscapes of the Torres del Paine national park in Patagonia, to the arid wilderness of the Atacama Desert, all of Chile’s 2,653 miles possess an insatiable charm. Andrew Doherty reports.
If you place Chile against a map of Europe you may be surprised to find that it almost stretches from Greece to the northernmost tip of Finland.
I recently met with to Marcela Cabezas, director at Sernatur, Chile’s National Tourism Service, who was keen to assert recent strong growth in arrivals to the destination.
She said: “Looking ahead at the upcoming summer period from December 2017 to March 2018, more than three million foreign tourists are expected to arrive in Chile, an anticipated increase of 21.4% compared to the same period in 2016-17, which welcomed 2.8 million tourists.
“UK arrivals have increased by 1.4% overall, with January 2017 showing an increase of 18% and visitors in August rose by 22.1%. Looking into 2018, we anticipate that European arrivals will continue to show a steady growth rate of 4%.”
Cabezas explained that the Chilean government was keen to maintain this trend and has increased its resources for tourism promotion. Major developments taking place include the creation of the Route of Parks project. The 1,500-mile route will travel through a network of 17 national parks, from Hornopiren to the Beagle Channel, encompassing forests, volcanoes and coastlines. Furthermore, Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet has pledged to create five new national parks classified as the Patagonia Parks Network.
Eli Tersou, sales and marketing senior account executive at the Chilean tourism board in the UK, explained that Chile still had misconceptions to overcome.
“Historically we’ve had limited accessibility to Chile and the South American continent from the UK. With the introduction of a new British Airways flight as well as other new flights to South America, this issue is being addressed and the flight prices are becoming more competitive.
“Chile is also one of the safest countries in South America, with new technologies and infrastructure, as well as friendly locals and developed tourism services.”
And creating awareness of the destination among the travel trade is high on the agenda for 2018.
Tersou said it would be investing in training, fam trips and road shows. “There is a Europe road show expected in March, which will most likely include a day in London to train the trade and enable them to meet Chilean representatives.”