03 NOV 2014: What destination is at the doorstep of Antarctica, has wines that rival Napa and Bordeaux, and has been showing huge promise to the Canadian travel market? Chile.

Last week in a four-city North American whistle stop tour dubbed “Chile Week,” the new North America marketing manager Juan Lopez alongside tourism partners and DCI, the agency of record for Turismo Chile, had lots to say on the topic when they visited Chicago, New York City plus Vancouver and Toronto which marked the Turismo Chile’s first ever visit to Canada.

Not bad for this South American country he adds that only recently established a ministry of tourism only four years ago. “Chile is getting hot,” he laughs and adds, “Go to Chile to chill out a little bit.”

On a serious note, Lopez notes Chile has made Canada a priority market. “We’re putting more marketing dollars because we are seeing the numbers of Canadian arrivals increasing in the last two to three years and we see Canadians are particularly interested in outdoor activities and that’s what Chile has to offer.”

For Agents

Agents now have access to a new 2014-2015 Chile Specialist programme, a handy desk reference booklet, listing over 70 tour operators in North America offering Chilean themed tours including topics such as “Chile Essential” and “Selling Patagonia and Antarctica.” For more details on how to become a Chile Specialist see www.chile-specialist.com.

The other big news is the target audience.

In an exclusive interview with Travel Industry Today, Lopez said that boomers and younger outdoor adventure travellers are eagerly exploring the dramatic countryside, the vibrant culture and Chile’s rich history.

Boomers he says generally stay 25-27 days while the average stays for the younger demographic he admits are typically around 17 days.

“When we were in Vancouver there was a lot of interest in selling Chile,” he noted.

The Experience Chile Show

Trade partners, tourism suppliers, travel agents and local media gathered at the Art Gallery of Ontario to sample Chilean fare, wines and experience traditional dance, one of which was from the fabled isle of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) with its heavy Polynesian-style influences.

A Hot Chile Top Five List

Sure everybody’s got their own favourite places in the world and Lopez is no exception. The Atacama-born who now calls Santiago home, has his top five Chile places which he says are ideal for the first-time visitor in search of unique experiences.

1. Atacama Desert especially for the “Flowering Desert” phenomenon when rare rain falls. It just happened and over the next few weeks lucky tourists from Korea and Japan are aiming their lenses for this. “All the packages have been sold already,” he says.

2. The capital Santiago is a mesh of hotbed neighbourhoods in historic districts with a chi-chi cosmopolitan vibe. Check out barrios like Lastarria and Providencia for its bespoke boutique hotels.

3. Find out why the port city of Valparaiso (30 minutes from Santiago) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic city known as the “Pearl of the Pacific” currently is seeing a flurry of trendy art galleries and is known for is graffiti art street murals. “A very arty atmosphere,” notes Lopez. Packed with cable cars this pre-Panama Canal port city was “the place”. Now find an attractive boho vibe with tourism attractions and boutique hotels. The famous Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda lived there.

4. Patagonia’s remote unique landscape feels like “you are a little tiny bean in the world,” he says. Divided by ice fields with the largest continental glaciers in the world after Antarctica and Greenland, Lopez further explains the 1,750 glaciers will mesmerize. The other really cool note involves those Antarctica-bound clients who loathe crossing the infamous, treacherous Drake Passage by ship with its hurling waves. Tell them Puntarenas in Patagonia offers an easy, breezy 1.5 hour flight to Antarctica bypassing that entire ordeal altogether. “We fly people over and they go on the cruise and do the normal cruise excursions,” he says about the plane trip that’s about $2000 but as he points out is well worth it. “You avoid the Drake Passage voyage which is 72 hours there and 72 hours back.”

5. Easter Island – you know this one was coming. Who doesn’t want to see this place? The land of the ancient Rapa Nui people and the beguiling statues dare I say is most likely on many bucket lists.

So as clients continue their inquiries on the next new, searching for the authentic and a destination that hits all the notes from culinary and wineries to ancient cultures and outdoor adventure Chile does need some serious consideration.


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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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