The historic Fort Bulnes in the south of Chile will be made more attractive to tourists under a US$3.3 million investment to enhance the grounds around it.
A local consortium was awarded a 25-year concession for the 130-acres of land that will see a new visitor center built at the entrance to the park where the fort sits.
The fort, which was declared a national monument in 1968, is near the Strait of Magellan about 62 km south of Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in Chile and the Americas.
The fort was at the center of the first Chilean settlement in Patagonia when it was first built in 1843 with logs, grass and mud by people from Chiloé. It was burnt to the ground six years later when the settlers decided to move to Punta Arenas.
The building was reconstructed in 1943, with a church, chaplain’s quarters, jail, powder magazine, post office and stable also being built on the grounds.
Now, under a project to boost tourism to the site, the consortium says it will build a 1,500 square meter visitor center at the entrance to the area including a restaurant, coffee shop, rest rooms and space for both permanent and temporary exhibitions with an auditorium for 150 people and a souvenir shop as well.
There are also plans to hire rangers and tour guides for the park and to further develop the trails and to add more information boards.
“Today you can go to Fuerte Bulnes, but you can’t even see 10 per cent of its value because there is no structure to the paths,” Randy Twyman, one member of the consortium, told Chilean newspaper El Mercurio. “More information, better trails and project development is needed so the place becomes a tourism destination of international standards.”