Chile: Adventure Travel’s Rising Star
PHOTO: Torres del Paine. (Photo courtesy Tourismo Chile)
Think you know Chile’s top attractions? Patagonia and the Atacama Desert are famous for their striking landscapes. Santiago and its surrounding valleys are well known for their wine, and Easter Island visitors are driven by the mysteries of the intriguing moai statues. But Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, is determined to develop new regions of the country and is dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism in Chile, as she revealed during a surprise visit to the Adventure Travel World Summit, which took place in Puerto Varas, Chile, Oct. 5-9.
Bachelet plans to dedicate $100 million between now and 2018 to creating new opportunities for travel within the country. In addition, Bachelet is devoting $17 million more to create 132 miles of trails, 21 miles of bicycle paths and campgrounds in national parks.
Bachelet is also devoting part of the $100 million to teaching English and Portuguese to tourism workers to help promote Chile as an international destination. Tourism in the country is growing rapidly, with the first half of 2015 seeing a 20 percent increase over last year.
Bachelet’s visit to the summit also came just after she announced plans to create the largest marine reserve in the Americas at a press conference in Valparaiso. The newly protected waters around the Desventuradas Islands contain many marine species that are not found anywhere else on earth. The area is located hundreds of miles off the coast of Chile and is approximately the size of Italy.
Adventure Travel’s Rising Star
After hosting the Adventure Travel World Summit, the World Travel Awards took place in Bogota. Solidifying its position as an adventure travel superstar, Chile took home the award for Leading Adventure Tourism Destination. It was the first one the country has received in the 22-year history of the event.
In regards to the award, Chile’s Deputy Director of Tourism Javiera Montes said, “This prize is a recognition of the efforts we have made as a government to promote our tourism not only on a national level but also internationally.”
Andrea Wolleter, Turismo Chile’s general manager, added, “Both this recognition, as well as hosting the recent Adventure Travel World Summit, makes us very proud since they are, in part, the result of Chile’s international promotion as a reliable destination in international markets.”
It seems that Chile’s popularity is already making an impact with tour operators eager to create journeys that take advantage of the country’s improving infrastructure. Bicycle Adventures is among a number of tour operators who have recently launched tours to remote places in the country that have rarely been explored by visitors.
The company has launched the new Chile Lakes & Volcanoes 10-day cycling vacation that includes a ride on the Lake Ranco Route, a first for a bicycle touring company.
“Until a short time ago the road here was gravel,” said Todd Starnes, Bicycle Adventures’ co-owner and guiding visionary. “But now it is paved, so we will be the first bike tour company to ride on this road. Our forte is to find roads less traveled.”
For more information on adventure travel opportunities to Chile, visit the Adventure Travel Trade Association, which provides a list of its tour operator members operating in the country.
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