The Chile Tourism Board has taken this time before reopening to international travelers to up the ante for the country’s tourism offerings with the help from national entities. From virtual trainings that educate local travel companies of all sizes to ongoing infrastructure updates taking place at the country’s largest airport, Chile is preparing to safely revive travel to the destination following the country’s most recent border closure in April 2021.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chile received over 220,000 tourists from the U.S. in 2019, making American travelers one of the country’s top feeder and priority markets. The average length of stay for U.S. tourists to the country was approximately 15 days while the average daily spend was nearly $100. The country has become increasingly attractive to North American travelers, especially due to its geographical location on the west coast of South America that allows for a variety of climates and ecosystems making it ideal for adventure experiences. Due to this favorable climate, Chile also offers clear skies for stargazing, as well as vineyards that produce top-quality wine.
“Welcoming travelers is one of the things we do best in Chile, and we are currently working on reinforcing our tourism offering to better prepare our country, our infrastructure and our local businesses while we coordinate a future country-wide reopening,” said Andrea Wolleter, national director of SERNATUR, the government entity representing the Chile Tourism Board, in a press statement.
Among the new initiatives currently in process, are construction updates continue to progress at Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, Santiago de Chile’s airport and the country’s largest. The official re-inauguration of a new international terminal is slated by year-end 2021 and will feature over 2 million sq. ft. of facilities. With an investment of over $900 million, the facelift will allow the airport to receive 30 million travelers, up from the 16 million visitors it can currently receive. One of the levels of the airport’s new parking buildings will operate as an open-air amphitheater for free cultural events and other activities.
In addition, SERNATUR, via the SIGO Technology initiative, recently provided an interactive, digitalization training for hundreds of local tourism companies. As the pandemic sped up the use of digital platforms, these businesses were able to gain a competitive advantage by acquiring new digital skills and tools that allowed them to strengthen their positioning online.
Another new program is “Relatos de Guias”, or tales by guides in English, is a new SERNATUR campaign that invites tour guides to submit a video where they give a virtual tour of their Chilean destination of choice. Launched in June, nearly 2,000 guides have participated and will be compensated financially for sharing their video. Then, SERNATUR’S production team will work alongside the participating guides to produce a 5-minute video, which will be published online for all to enjoy.
While borders remain closed to foreign tourists, Chile has seen an increase in national and international air routes, which will continue as new mobility passes start being granted to locals. Per Chile’s Civil Aeronautics Board, there was a 237.7 percent increase in international air traffic in May 2021 when compared to the same period in 2020. In addition, Chile’s National Statistics Institute indicates that occupancy rates for hotel rooms registered an increase of over 200 percentage points in April 2021, compared to the same month in 2020. Chile’s mobility pass, issued by the national government, came into effect on May 26 and will allow domestic travel, among other activities, for people who have their two vaccine doses.