Tourism to Chile increases 12 percent in first part of 2011

Global and regional trends showed overall increases, but still no return to pre-2008 international tourism levels.

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Chile’s tourism operators enjoyed a good year in the first part of 2011, experiencing greater increases than the global average and trailing just a few points behind regional powerhouses like Peru and Colombia.

The recently published “Tourism Barometer” by the Federation of Tourism Businesses in Chile (Fedetur) revealed several important aspects and explanations for the 12 percent increase between January and September of 2011. Read the full report, here (in Spanish).

In total, some 2.2 million tourists landed on Chile’s shores during the first nine months of 2011 – exploring the wonders of the Atacama Desert, the charm of the Pacific coastline, the adrenaline of the Andes mountains or the beauty of the Patagonia wilderness.

One important factor in the increase was the influx of Brazilian tourists during the southern hemisphere’s ski season – July to September. Chile saw a boost of Brazilian skiers to its top resorts like Portillo, Valle Nevado and Farellones, in part due to volcanic activity on the other side of the Andes and the closure of the Argentine ski hub Bariloche.

“We have to wonder if it will be possible to sustain this growth during the winter season next year, when the conditions at the Argentine ski centers have returned to normal,” said Eugenio Yunis, executive vice president of Fedetur.

In order to capitalize on Chile’s boomer 2011 ski season – which also saw Chile named as the best place to spend the northern hemisphere’s summer vacations by the New York Post – Yunis said that Chile will need a bigger advertising budget for 2012.

According to Yunis, Chile is suffering from a lack of publicity, not a lack of offerings. “Many of the countries around us have publicity budgets that are two, three or even four times bigger than Chile.”

The Chilean tourism barometer also compiled indicators about tourist activity on a global and regional level. Between January and June of 2011, international tourism reached some 440 million trips around the world, an increase of 4.5 percent compared to the period between January and June 2010, but still not higher than pre-2008 levels.