Chile’s undersecretary of tourism, Mónica Zalaquett, tells Sebastian Shehadi about the country’s improved connectivity and public spending on tourism infrastructure.

Q: What brings you to the 2019 World Travel & Tourism Council global summit?

A: This summit is a good opportunity for us to network, because we’re looking for new investors to come to Chile for hotels, new products, cruises and for things that happen here. So we’re showing that our country with all its attributes in the past five years we’ve received a lot of nominations and awards. There are a lot of nice places for the night, and now we must be able to have more services and tourism products.

Q: Why should tourists who don’t know Chile visit the country? 

A: Our country is a land of big contrasts: we have deserts, the Pacific Ocean and the mountains. We invite you to have a deep experience with the nation. People now live crowded in big cities. Many tourists are looking to have an experience with local communities, to have a unique experience, and that is what Chile offers. 

Also, Chile is super safe and stable. When you want to travel to the end of the world, the southernmost city in the world that is the closest city to Antarctica, then go to Chile. If you look at the government statistics, we’re very secure. In 2017, the number of tourists went up to 6.5 million, up by 14%. 

Q: Is there an under-supply of hotels? 

A: We have enough in the best-known destinations, such as Patagonia and Rapa, but now we’re promoting other destinations, since we have much more than the obvious. 

There’s a lot happening with astronomy in northern Chile. This year we will have the eclipse. Next year we will have another eclipse. Big labs for science. Now we are translating that to tourism and living experience. To promote those regions, we are making efforts as a government to create the right infrastructure and connectivity. We’re building seven new international airports, besides Santiago’s airport.

The largest network of natural parks inside of Chile – dozens of parks and thousands of kilometres through Patagonia, where there are the tallest trees in the world – is being set up by the person who founded the North Face sportswear company. 

Q: Why is Chilean tourism only taking off now?

A: We began to look at opportunities in tourism eight years ago, but yes, it’s a new industry for us. Still, connectivity has also grown exponentially. Ten years ago it was actually tough to get to Chile. Now if you look at a map of flights, with connections for Chile it’s actually very easy. We have a lot of connections. The tourism industry in Chile is very active for FDI. 

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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