Chile’s tourism industry to strengthen economic development

Small to medium-sized businesses are set to reap the benefits of a new signed agreement which will promote and stimulate growth within Chile’s tourism sector.

Lake Todos los Santos is the third most popular destination in the Los Lagos Region, as rated by Trip Advisor. Photo by Sernatur Los Lagos Región / Facebook.
Lake Todos los Santos is the third most popular destination in the Los Lagos Region, as rated by Trip Advisor. Photo by Sernatur Los Lagos Región / Facebook.

Breathtaking coastal landscapes combined with imposing mountains and sweeping acres of vineyards — which produce some of the finest wines on earth — make Chile a fascinating country to visit. It’s no wonder that the number of tourists traveling to the country increases year after year.

In an attempt to capitalize on the continued success of Chile’s tourism industry, the government’s tourist board (Sernatur) for the region of Los Lagos has signed an agreement with Banco Estado Microempresas — one of the national bank’s current initiatives — in a strategic bid to further encourage economic development.

The Regional Deputy Manager of Banco Estado Microempresas, José Antonio Paredes, explained how the initiative was particularly important for the Los Lagos area.

“The tourism sector is incredibly relevant to our region owing to its growth potential, which is why we want to provide this support to local business which will materialize in the form of financial backing for all micro-businesses who provide some kind of tourist service,” Paredes confirmed.

During the first few months of 2014, 9.2 million Chileans traveled to various destinations within the country for their annual vacations. Approximately, 850,000 foreign tourists made a visit to Chile during the same period, reflecting a 1.2 percent increase on the figures from 2013.

The signed agreement between Sernatur and Banco Estado Microempresas promises to increase potential tourist activity across the country by providing small to medium-sized businesses with the financial support they need to better reach their public and make the services they provide even more attractive. The scheme is specially designed to finance projects launched by all micro-businesses in Chile which offer some kind of service or product for tourists.

Carmen Gloria Muñoz, the Regional Ministerial Secretary of Economy has placed her faith in the agreement, assuring that the initiative addresses the needs of the national economy, as well as political reform and tourism sector development.

“It’s very important to acknowledge that the Productivity, Innovation and Growth Agenda is being strongly addressed thanks to Banco Estado’s financial backing, enabling the development of more support mechanisms to be made available to small and medium-sized businesses,” Muñoz said.

According to the information provided by Banco Estado Microempresas, the signed agreement consists of a single campaign which will be available for all micro-businesses in the tourism sector from April 21 to June 30. The loans available can be used to for investment, working capital or as a net of free reserves / unrestricted funds.

These loans can be arranged to include repayment after a month, or on a quarterly or annual basis. Interest-rate discounts are also available, providing yet another incentive to the micro-business owner hoping to expand and looking for ways to fund those expansions.

“Tourism in Chile is principally composed of micro, small and medium-sized businesses, which is why this agreement follows along the lines stipulated by the President Michelle Bachelet, who has requested that we support businesses with development tools that would be adequate at different business stages,” explained Claudia Díaz Gallardo, Sernatur Los Lagos’ Regional Director.

At its core, Sernatur Los Lagos’ agreement with Banco Estado Microempresas represents Chile’s desire, not just to ignite the development of high quality services within the tourism sector, but also to encourage these micro-businesses to compete in a healthy manner. The idea is to generate the very best tourist experience possible.

The recent signed agreement is just one of Sernatur’s many tourism industry projects, organized to stimulate economic growth.

In 2012, tourist businesses were invited by Sernatur Los Lagos and Sercotec — a government organization which works to improve the competitivity and productivity of the micro and small businesses in Chile — to take part in the Capital Semilla Competition. Businesses were given the chance to win a financial investment fund to help develop their business ideas — the funds ranging from US$909 to US$3638.

The following year, Sernatur Los Lagos trained 75 retirees in the Osorno province to be tourist guides. The idea behind the scheme was to better integrate the community in the tourism industry, allowing Chileans to participate in local tourist activities and be the welcoming face for national and international visitors who arrive to Chile’s many popular tourist destinations.