In case you haven’t heard by now, the South American country of Chile was rocked by an 8.8-magnitide earthquake, killing roughly 140 people and counting.
Don’t let the Haiti numbers fool you , people, more than 100 people dead is still a big deal.
And it couldn’t have happened to a more beautiful country in Latin America.
It is painful for me to look at pictures of toppled buildings and collapsed bridges, a sharp contrast from the snow-covered mountains and gorgeous lakes I saw when visiting there this summer.
In fact, on Friday, I just finalized a trip to go back there in mid-April. I was actually slated to be in Santiago, the city hit the hardest by the quake, which is still sending off after shocks every hour.
It’s hard for me to think like a member of the travel industry when so much human life has been lost, but the fact is Chile, like Haiti, was right smack in the middle of a major tourism push.
Last year, it hosted the TravelMart Latin America trade show. For anyone not familiar with the show, whoever hosts this show is usually the region’s next top player. Past hosts, such as Ecuador and Colombia, have all went on to huge tourism numbers shortly after hosting and Chile was heading in much the same direction.
And now this.
I still haven’t read the full reports on damage to infrastructure and since it happened over the weekend, I haven’t spoken to my sources there to see what hotels and other tourism facilities and attractions were damaged.
But needless to say, the most damage to be suffered here, from a tourism standpoint, is going to be public perception. Even if there’s not another earthquake or any other natural disaster in Chile for the next decade, people are still going to be fearful of it, much in the same fashion as people are still worried about traveling to Aruba because of one murder that happened a few years ago.
Ok, back to being a human again. If you have family there, work there or live there, my prayers go out to you. And if my Chile trip is still on for April, I’d be more than happy to go, offer a helping hand and tell you all about it.