Travel Agent was on hand for a lunch sponsored by LAN Airlines at the USTOA 2010: Out of Country Meeting in Chile on Tuesday and learned of the carrier’s aggressive plans to bulk both domestic and international connections within South America.
Marcelo Grether, global tourism director for LAN, told media that the carrier is looking to bulk up connections throughout such South American hot spots as Peru, Brazil and Ecuador with Lima serving as the carriers greatest South American hub.
“We really need to make so that when people spend seven days in South America, they can see more than one country,” Grether says. “If they can see more than one spot in South America, then perhaps more people will come to the region for leisure travel.”
Some new flights on the horizon include flights from Chile (Easter Island to be exact) to Lima, beginning on November 3 and flights from Ecuador to the Galapagos, beginning on September 16.
These flights, coupled with a yet-to-be-determined plan to add several connections within Brazil, will give the airline exactly what it needs to sell South America as a multi-destination getaway.
Paolo Dina, LAN’s leisure market manager for North America and the Caribbean, says this will hopefully result in a spike of leisure travel from the U.S. As its stands now, South America is a destination for only 4-percent of all leisure travelers originating in the U.S., Dina says. And as low as that number is, it is actually an increase from a few years ago when that number stood at just one percent.
“Although the number is low, we are actually growing faster than other region in the world,” says Grether. “We can still grow a lot and we will.”