March 2011 saw a ten-year high in numbers of tourists visiting Chile, capping a three month period at the beginning of the year that saw an overall 9.2 percent increase from the same period in the year before.
The month of March alone attracted 289,000 tourists, closing a summer season with visits from more than 1 million foreign tourists.
March’s record number of tourists represents a 49.6 percent increase over March 2010, the month most affected by the aftermath of the earthquake in February of that year. Compared to March of 2009 – a more typical representation – March 2011 represents an 18 percent growth, and a full 4 percent over March of 2008, one Chile’s best periods for tourism.
Just under half of the foreign tourists (112,000) that arrived in Chile in March came from neighboring Argentina, with the second highest number (39,000) arriving from Europe. Another 31,500 arrived across the northern border from Peru, with the remaining 30,000 from other parts of the world. The number of Argentines arriving in the country more than doubled from last year, while the number of Brazilians visiting in March grew by 28 percent.
Jacquline Plass, the Subsecretary of Tourism, noted the important role that promotional campaigns have played in these increases, particularly a new push to promote more remote destinations in the far southern province of Magallanes, the Chilean Antarctic Territory and Easter Island.
The jump in tourism in the first three months of 2011 follows a series of notable publicity boons at the end of the 2010. The rescue of the miners brought the eyes of the world to Chile nearly a year after the devastating earthquake of February 2010, drawing unified praise for the rescue effort as well as the ongoing recovery effort in the south.
This was followed by the New York Times naming Chile as the world’s number one tourist destination for 2011. Based on the statistics from the Ministry of Tourism, it seems people got the message.