Chile the “hottest destination”, tourist board says

The number of international visitor arrivals to Chile is growing fast, prompting the country’s tourist board to state that the South American nation is the world’s “hottest destination”.

The number of global visitors to Chile in 2013 was 3.6 million, increasing from 2.8m in 2010. In contrast, Argentina had 5m visitors last year but has a population of 40m.

And talking to Travel Daily at ITB Asia,Pablo Retamal, Chile Tourism’s markets manager for Asia Pacific, said; “An increase like this is really significant, especially for a country with a population of just 17m people. We see the country as the hottest destination for growth.”

El Colorado ski resort near Santiago, Chile
El Colorado ski resort near Santiago, Chile

Retamal continued; “Tourism now counts for 3% of our GDP and we’re aiming for 6%. Next year, the country will start to reach its potential as it hosts the Adventure Travel World Summit – 65% of our visitors come for the nature and adventure.

“We want to work with airlines like LAN to make sure we efficiently get Asian customers to Chile – but my job is make sure that they stay there!” he joked.

“Instead of using the city as a transit destination, we want them to see the region: the vineyards; the skiing; Patagonia; the world’s driest desert, the Atacama, and Easter Island.”

On the subject of skiing, Retamal draws some parallels with ski tourism in New Zealand, but also believe that Chile has some advantages:  “The ski resorts in New Zealand are all at the bottom of the mountains – you don’t get the feeling of an alpine destination. In Chile, some resorts are just an hour from Santiago and you still get above-the-treeline skiing. Our ski season, June to August, coincides perfectly with the height of the heat in Southeast Asia.”

Speaking of the event, Retamal is seeing promising results: last year, we only came here with one DMC, now we’re here with three. We need to invest in the Asia market efficiently – 26,000 visitors come from Japan and China alone. Our 2015 strategy is to build here; China is such a big market you can’t ignore it.”

Article by Simon Willmore

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