Since the mid 1990’s, tourism has become one of Chile’s main economic resources, especially in the most extreme regions of the country. In 2005, this sector grew 13.6%, generating over USD $1,500 million, equivalent to 1.33% of the national GDP. In its promotion of tourism abroad, Chile invested a total of US $6 million in 2012.
According to the UNWTO, Chile was the eighth destination for foreign tourists in America in 2010, receiving 1.8% of the total number of visits to the continent. That year, 2,766,000 tourists arrived in the country and spent USD $1,636 million. The majority of these visitors came from countries within South America, mainly Argentina; However, the highest growth in recent years has been with visitors from Europe, mainly Germany. During the first quarter of 2011, more than 1,043,000 tourists entered, which meant an increase of 9.2% compared to the same period of the previous year, which had a total of 3,069,792 visitors by the end of that year. At the same time, a total of 3,724,118 Chileans visited other countries in 2011.
Nationally, tourism is concentrated in the summer months, especially in the coastal resorts in the Northern areas like Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena and Coquimbo – and in Lakes region in the South zone in places like Pucón and Puerto Varas. Due to its proximity to the nation’s capital, the coast of the Valparaíso Region is is very popular for tourists, primarily the central coast and Viña del Mar. The latter city is considered the tourist capital of Chile because of its importance thanks to its thirteen beaches and various entertainment centers — it has one of the major casinos of the country — and the annual International Music Festival of Viña del Mar that it hosts, which is the biggest musical event in Latin America and the most important of the continent.
Additionally, Chile is home to five sites declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.