The people of the Region of Araucanía, around 10 hours South of Chile’s capital by bus, have reason to be happy. Visits from tourists to their national parks rose 40% this January, reaching 41,381 visitors, compared with the same date a year ago in 2010.
The number of people visiting the region’s ecological reserves has experienced a staggering rise of 71 percent since the summer of 2006, when only 22,406 visitors were recorded.
The increased presence of tourists in Villarrica, Conguillío and Huerquehue Parks is thought to be explained by strong advocacy from local authorities and improved access to the parks.
In an interview with El Mercurio, regional governor Andrés Molina explained that local officials had decided during the winter period to boost visitor arrivals to the areas. Many visitors who had entered the reservations during winter then decided to return for the summer, contributing to the rise.
The creation of a new web page which was part of the Araucanía Investment Plan is also thought to explain the rise in the number of tourists.
The success extended beyond January. According to the regional authority, in the first half of February visitors numbered about 26,000 – twice as many as in February 2010. «This result is fantastic,” says Molina.