It’s no longer news that Chile has entered the ranks of one of the region’s leading travel destinations: Lonely Planet named Santiago a top-10 destination for 2012; Chilean ski slopes were ranked one of the best summer vacations for the northern hemisphere; Forbes put Easter Island on its “bucket list”; and the Colchagua Wine Valley made the pick for top wine destination in 2012.
According to the most recent numbers from the Federation of Tourism Businesses (Fedetur), international tourism increased 11 percent last year in Chile. More than 3 million tourists visited the varied destinations within the national boundaries – 3,069,792, to be exact, putting Chile into the top-three tourist destinations in South America, behind Argentina and Brazil.
Fedetur celebrated the 2011 figures, saying it showed a recovery from the negative effects of the 2010 earthquake in southern Chile.
The majority of tourists visited Chile during the high season – January, February and December. One standout figure that emerged from the report, however, was the 50 percent increase in tourists during March. Fedetur cited the abnormally low figures from 2010 as part of the reason for the striking improvement in 2011. The increase was particularly strong among tourists from Brazil (270 percent), Argentina (104 percent) and Colombia (61 percent).
Overall, the country that sent the most tourists to Chile last year was Argentina, and Argentine tourists increased 11 percent in 2011. Brazil and Colombia, meanwhile, registered the greatest increases in tourism to Chile, with 41 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
Tourists from the United States, Europe and Australia have historically stood out as the highest spenders-per-capita, but those figures shrank in the second half of 2011, due to the economic instability in the Eurozone and the United States.
Executive Vicepresident of Fedetur, Eugenio Yunis, said: “We will have to search for new promotional and marketing strategies in Europe and the United States, in order to attract the highest sector of the market, since according to reports, they are the one who maintain their consumption levels and long-distance voyages despite economic crises.”