A vast expanse of crystal clear water stretching out at the feet of two giant, snow-capped volcanoes – this is Llanquihue, the second largest lake in Chile and one of only two destinations in South America to take part in an important program shaping the future of sustainable travel in the region and further afield.
Alongside the Cusco-Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu corridor in neighbouring Peru, Llanquihue has completed the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) “Early Adopters” pilot program. Working with partner NGO Sustainable Travel International (STI), the GSTC program is testing its new Destination Criteria which will complement the current yardstick for worldwide sustainability in the tourism business, the organisation’s existing Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators.
Located 650 miles south of Santiago, Llanquihue is in Chile’s Los Lagos Region and forms part of a large area of several high quality tourist destinations. Sitting at the shore of the lake’s peaceful, lapping waters are several picturesque towns such as Puerto Varas, Llanquihue, Puerto Octay and Frutillar, well-known for its state-of-the-art theater.
The region boasts a well-established tourism industry that has continued to gain popularity as visitors from across the world discover its irresistible combination of spectacular scenery and the availability of a range of exciting activities such as skiing and hiking in the immediate vicinity.
GSTC Chairwoman Kelly S. Bricker highlighted the significance of the participation of the Llanquihue area and its Peruvian counterpart in the program.
“These two iconic South American destinations are demonstrating true global leadership,” Bricker told Travel Daily News. “We are confident that this second and final round of our pilot program will help the GSTC continue in our effort to incorporate diverse perspectives and improve the Criteria and Indicators for Destinations for world-wide application through a transparent, collaborative process.”
Chile already boasts a history of successful sustainable tourism projects. In 2012, the nearby Huilo Huilo project won the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award for “Best Conservation of Wildlife and Habitats.”