Chile’s ‘lake district’ attends world’s most important tourism fair

The Los Lagos region joined a sustainability network to improve green practices alongside its presentation at the renowned Berlin ITB Fair.

Earlier this month, tourism experts from Chile’s lush pre-patagonian south traveled to the German capital, Berlin, to represent their region on arguably the greatest stage available for the travel industry.

The geography of the two places could not be more different: The Los Lagos Region is a vast patchwork of crystal clear lakes, snow-capped volcanoes and rugged mountains, whereas Berlin’s surroundings are famously flat. However, as tourism representatives from across the world gathered for the ITB Fair — considered world’s most influential travel industry event — it was not differences on their mind, but one common aim: catching the attention of travel operators in order to promote their region.

Fernando Ortúzar, Director of Chile’s Tourism Service (Sernatur) for the Los Lagos Region, said that attending the fair is a huge boon for efforts to promote the area’s thriving travel industry.

“It is of utmost importance for us to attend this type of event because it represents an excellent opportunity to spread awareness of our attractions in front of the international market,” he explained, adding that the southern region had a lot to offer the activity-hungry European traveler. “In general, the European visitor is more interested in experiences linked to tourism but of special interest, so the lakes and volcanoes of Patagonia are a powerful brand we seek to promote.”

Created in 1966, Berlin’s ITB Fair has grown to be considered the world’s most important trade event. According to the organization, this year’s show boasted more than 10,000 exhibiting groups from 189 countries, presenting their wares to an audience of more than 170,000 people, the majority of whom were industry experts and buyers.

The trip to Germany wasn’t all straight selling and promotion, however. In a parallel event, tourist representatives took the opportunity to share knowledge on sustainable practices to help keep the industry green. Already participating in a sustainable tourism scheme, Chile’s Los Lagos Region was invited to join the Sustainable Destination Leadership Network (SDLN)
alongside regions as diverse as Oregon and Portland in the U.S. and Spain’s Lanzarote region.
Participating countries discussed the challenges and successes of promoting sustainable tourism with an eye to increase efficiency, something Sernatur official Gonzalo Larraín described as an important component in the Los Lagos Region’s green drive.

“This reinforces the value of the efforts we have made to develop as a region,” he said. “[The SDLN] is a benefit that we are able to partake in as pioneering destinations which have adopted a real promise to creating sustainable travel based on responsible tourism.”

To visit the region, head to the Los Lagos capital and jumping off point for tourism, Puerto Montt — around 600 miles south of Santiago, accessible by bus and direct flights — then simply choose one of the many national parks or historical attractions and explore!