Chilean reserve wins prize at global travel conference

Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve praised for its sustainable tourism credentials and commitment to conservation.

A rich rainforest reserve, home to many species of flora and fauna endemic to Chile, has won recognition at the 2013 edition of the World Travel Market trade fair in London.

The event, which seeks to recognize “responsible tourism,” singled out the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve in the Los Rios Region of Southern Chile for its unique and successful approach to combining conservation and tourism.

The executive director of Huilo Huilo, Alexandra Petermann, received the “People’s Choice Award” on behalf of the project which was established in 1999 and covers around 600 square miles of forest.

“This new international recognition validates the concept of sustainability that has been implemented in the biological reserve, demonstrating that conservation and economic development can go hand in hand,” said Petermann.

To win the prize, Huilo Huilo had to beat out competiting ecotourism and conservation projects located in Nepal, New Zealand, India and the UK. Despite some tough competition, though, the Chilean reserve walked away with the prize following an online vote in which more than 5,000 people participated.

The reserve — which boasts waterfalls, some as high as 160 feett, serene lakes and virgin beaches — is approximately 500 miles south of Santiago and accessible from the attractive, historic riverside town of Valdivia.

Huilo Huilo has already won several international prizes. In 2012, it walked away with the “Best for Conservation of Wildlife and Habitats” at the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards where organizers praised, among other things, the reserve’s efforts to drive sustainable economic activity through job-creation and educational programs for the local community.

More recently, Huilo Huilo was one of several Chilean sustainable tourism projects that helped the Andean nation rank among the world’s top ten ethical travel destinations. The accolade, bestowed by US-based non-profit group Ethical Traveler, also highlighted a project in the magical Rapa Nui aka Easter Island as reasons why Chile was a great choice for travel in 2014.