Capping off a strong year in international tourism, Chile welcomed its three millionth foreign visitor in the last week of December.
It is the first time that three million travelers from abroad have come to the South American country in a single calendar year, and the record figure represented an 11 percent increase from 2010.
Tourism Undersecretary Jacqueline Plass told Emol that the number of international tourists visiting Chile had tripled in the past two decades.
“Chile received a million tourists in 1991, so that means it took 20 years to go from one million to three million,” Plass said.
“We had been stuck for some time on 2.7 million, but this year we set an aggressive target and we worked hard with the private sector, because tourism is not an industry that solely relies on the state but one where private businesses are key.”
The year began well for Chilean tourism, with the New York Times declaring the capital city of Santiago the number one destination in 2011.
And throughout the year, local tourism authorities focused their efforts on six key markets, with high-profile publicity campaigns conducted in Spain, the UK, France, Germany, Argentina and Brazil.
The year-long marketing initiative in Brazil was particularly successful, with 320,000 Brazilian tourists visiting Chile in 2011, compared with just 210,000 in 2010.
“We increased [the number of Brazilian visitors] 150 percent, and that makes us very happy,” said Plass, who declared Brazil “the star of the year” for Chilean tourism in 2011.
Based on conservative modelling, Plass expects that the 2011-2012 summer season will see close to 800,000 international tourists coming to Chile.
“We expect more than 770,000 foreign visitors, which would mean an increase of between 2 and 7 percent on the same period last year,” she told La Tercera.
Tourism authorities hope the number of international tourists in Chile will reach four million by 2014.