Travel Agent recently sat down with Pablo Retamal, director of the Chilean Tourism Promotion Corp., who urged agents to stress the safety, stability and diversity of this South American country to sell it effectively.
Retamal says agents should target the
"sophisticated" traveler when looking for clients to send to Chile. He says
this is usually the 55- to 60-year-old baby boomer vacationer who has a deep
appreciation for other cultures, as well as a love of soft adventure, including
skiing or snowboarding.
In 2006, about 200,000 U.S.
travelers visited Chile
for more than one night, 40,000 of which were cruise passengers, Retamal says.
This number increased by nine percent from 2005, he says. The country received
about two million visitors total.
Retamal stressed that Chile's main asset is its
diversity, offering opportunities for eco-tourists, skiing enthusiasts and wine
lovers, as one-third of the country is made up of fertile wine regions. Most
Americans tend to travel to Chile
from December to March. The peak ski season is from June to October. The wine
harvest usually takes place in February and March.
"There are very few places where you can ski one day,
look at the ocean on another and visit the desert the next," Retamal says.
And with an amendment to its law regarding casinos, the
country can offer clients another hook. Retamal says restrictions on gambling
were recently lifted after about a five-year struggle to attract more foreign
investment. Since the law was amended, Retamal says about 10 projects for
casinos are already in the works. Although he didn't release specifics, Retamal
told Travel Agent that some projects involve major U.S. casino
companies. Casino construction will begin in Chile in as early as two years,
He also encourages agents to assure clients that Chile is safe.
"Many Americans think Chile is unstable, that it is unsafe, but Chile has
a stable economy, the laws are respected, we have a democracy and the crime
rate is very low, especially robbery and violent crimes," he says.
LAN Airlines, formerly LanChile, is Chile's main
carrier. It is based in Santiago, Chile's capital, and is the largest airline in
South America, with flights to many cities in Latin America, North America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Oceania and Europe. In the U.S.,
LAN Airlines operates flights to and from MiamiInternationalAirport,
from which it is about an eight-hour flight to Santiago.
operators that sell Chile
include: Trafalgar, Globus