Chile’s Tourism Board Issues Update on Protests

A police barricade with a fake national coat of arms that reads "By force or force," bars the way to La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile. // Photo by AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd via Newscred

Chile’s Undersecretary of Tourism and the National Tourism Board (SERNATUR) have released an update on the travel situation in the country as protests, which thus far have killed at least 18 people, continue over economic inequality. 

According to SERNATUR, the majority of the tourism businesses and activities throughout the country are continuing to operate as normal, including in Chile’s most-visited destinations: San Pedro de Atacama, Elqui Valley,  Rapa Nui, Juan Fernández Island, the Chilean Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park. The organization also said that the cities of Valparaíso, Concepción, Coquimbo and Rancagua continue to operate business and transportation normally, although accessibility from Santiago may be impacted.

In Santiago, however, tens of thousands of protestors clashed with police Wednesday, according to CBS News. The situation has led to at least 18 deaths. 

SERNATUR said that Santiago will continue to have limited public transportation and commercial activity due to the protests and that, while the city’s international airport is continuing to operate as usual, some airlines have rescheduled flights. Transfers and taxis to and from the airport are also only operating partially, so travelers should expect delays. In the event that the authorities restrict transit on public roads, travelers are recommended to have their passport and a copy of their boarding pass readily available to ensure passage to and from the airport, SERNATUR said. 

A number of airlines have also issued change waivers due to the situation: 

American Airlines is allowing customers scheduled to travel through October 27 to rebook through October 31 between the same city pair in the same cabin (or pay the difference). 

Customers on United Airlines scheduled to fly through October 27 can rebook through October 31 in the originally ticketed cabin and between the original city pair. 

Delta is allowing customers scheduled to fly through October 25 to rebook through October 30, with the new ticket to be issued on or before that date. 

Bus terminals throughout Chile are operating as normal, according to SERNATUR. 

“The Undersecretary of Tourism and the National Tourism Board encourages tourists to be well-informed of the situation and act accordingly,” SERNATUR said in a written statement. “Be familiar with the destinations to which you are traveling, and be respectful of the rules stipulated by local authorities. Use official taxi services at the airports and tourist service providers certified by SERNATUR. Tourists may contact the Tourist Information Offices for further information and inquiries.”

Earlier this week the unrest had prompted the State Department to update its travel advisory for Chile. While the country’s overall advisory rating remains at Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution on the State Department’s four-tier travel advisory scale, travelers are advised to observe curfews, to monitor local media for updates and to avoid protests and demonstrations.

The protests began over a proposed transit fare hike that would have reportedly forced a family making minimum wage to use one-sixth of their income on transportation, and they have since grown into a larger clash over economic inequalities in the country that have grown since the end of the repressive Pinochet military dictatorship in 1990. 

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