SERNATUR, the National Tourism Promotion Agency of Chile
Visit Latin America: In the global context, what is the current situation of tourism in Chile?
The tourism industry worldwide is facing a deep crisis. The closure of borders, the suspension of flights and the impossibility of moving between territories to reduce the spread of Covid-19 have led the demand for tourist services to contract practically to zero.
In Chile, the tourism industry is going through a particularly complex period. Restrictions on movement and all the measures taken to protect people’s health have had a negative impact on the sector.
We know that as a country we are facing an extremely difficult situation. However, the fundamental objective of each of the decisions adopted by the Chilean Government is to keep safe the health and integrity of people. The only way to have a gradual reactivation of the economic sectors is to keep safe the well-being of our entire community.
At this point, our priority is that we all become aware of the importance of protecting ourselves individually, only then will we be able to travel and visit our beautiful country again. We hope that this new year will be the turning point that will speed up the reactivation of tourism, mainly due to the generalisation of the vaccine against the virus.
VLA: Given that tourism is strongly affected, what are the concrete and immediate actions that will be taken for receptive tourism?
In the context of the pandemic, and as it was to be expected, the closure of borders – both national and international – in November 2020 caused a fall in the arrivals of foreign tourists on the national territory of -96.6%, accumulating over the period January-November a contraction of -73.1%.
One of the measures we recently announced was the Holiday Permit (Permiso de Vacaciones), which are positive news for the industry, as it will have a direct impact on the revival of tourism. To date, more than 115,000 permits have been applied for, which is undoubtedly a contribution to business. However, it also poses greater health challenges, as the measures imposed by the Ministry of Health to protect people must be respected.
On the other hand, we are working to ensure that tourism continues to be an important driving force for the country’s economic recovery, taking on an articulating role, accompanying the industry, making visible the support, information and training initiatives that we have promoted and strengthening, above all, the call to work together with the industry to face the challenges posed by this pandemic.
This is why, in recent months, we have promoted the implementation of health protocols and measures, as well as the industry’s adherence to the Commitment Label (Certificado de Compromiso), which we call Confianza Turística, precisely because we want to prepare destinations, to value the articulation of territories and their inhabitants and how we all work to prepare responsible and safe tourism.
Currently, more than 4,600 companies throughout the country have declared that they are applying the protocols. We know that we will meet again and we know that this day will be closer if we demonstrate today that we are preparing properly and that our industry is safe.
VLA: Chile has just been rewarded at the World Travel Awards with the World Adventure Destination and Green Destination awards. What have been the steps to achieve excellence in these segments and what are the future actions you will undertake?
Chile has a wide variety of experiences that captivate millions of tourists from all over the world every year. These are the natural treasures that the country highlighted in the latest round of the World Travel Awards, the same ones that will be the ideal team to resume the activity once the conditions are right.
It is an award that fills us with pride, as we have received the Best Adventure Destination Award for the fifth consecutive year and, furthermore, we have managed to retain the title of Best Green Destination, which reflects the potential of our territory and the strength of the industry that allows our country to become a world-class travel experience in itself.
The commitment we have as a government is to continue making progress in positioning Chile as a benchmark in tourism, thanks to its unparalleled natural attractions, which will be in great demand by travellers in a post-pandemic context.
These achievements have been achieved thanks to strong promotional work in the strategic markets defined by Sernatur and the Undersecretariat of Tourism. Today these campaigns are focused on the digital field, with training in our destinations, participation in virtual tourism fairs, among other actions, which have helped us to position our destinations.
VLA: What message do you have for tourism professionals?
Our message will be above all for people’s health, it will always be our priority. In this sense, we project that the preparation we have carried out will be our main ally. At the same time, we have developed protocols and health guides that our providers have implemented with valuable commitment and that tourists appreciate. Therefore, our invitation is to follow the same path, to work together to revive the economy through tourism as soon as possible.
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