Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Fri January 15 2016

Chile Tourism Board Hopes To Build Off Strong 2015 Visitor Arrivals

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | January 15, 2016

Chile Tourism Board Hopes To Build Off Strong 2015 Visitor Arrivals

PHOTO: Chile’s astrological observation points are located within a mile of the cosmopolitan capital of Santiago. (Photo by Brian Major)

Chile tourism officials are hoping visitor arrivals can reach unprecedented levels by 2020 following the announcement earlier this month that the country hosted 4.4 million visitors in 2015. Officials at the Chile Tourism Board are hoping to reach 5 million annual visitor arrivals by the end of the current decade.

Overall, travel to Chile increased by 20.4 percent in 2015, including a 13 percent jump in visitors from North America. Officials cited the 2015 Copa America, the main international football tournament for national teams in South America, which took place in Chile from June 11 to July 4 last year, as a factor in the substantial visitor increase in 2015.

READ MORE: Adventure Travel in Chile

Still officials claim “certain intensive promotional actions” built around distinct Chilean attractions are also responsible for the increased visitor numbers.

Chile for example has emerged as a global astronomical observation center due to the dry atmosphere, high altitude, stable sky conditions and vast quantity of clear nights found in its northern region. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s astronomical observations are undertaken in the country, say Chile Tourism Board officials.

The historic town of San Pedro de Atacama offers one of the best areas for nocturnal astrological observation, is located just over one mile north of Santiago, Chile’s cosmopolitan capital city. Under the optimal conditions, nearly 3,000 stars can be distinguished in the night sky, say officials.  

San Pedro de Atacama, which overlooks the Licancabur volcano, also features the R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, which houses relics and artifacts tied to the region’s pre-Columbian cultures.

Last year also marked the 15th anniversary of the UNESCO’s recognition of the historic wooden churches in Chile’s southern Chiloe archipelago as World Cultural Heritage Sites. The UNESCO designation highlights 16 of more than 60 wooden churches in the Los Lagos Region built in the 18th and 19th centuries.

VIDEO: Highlights of Beautiful Chile

The structures differ from traditional classical Spanish colonial architecture in their use of native timber and wood shingle-construction, designs built to withstand the Chile Archipelago's humid and rainy oceanic climate.

The churches’ construction commenced when the region was a Spanish Crown possession and represents Chile’s mestizo culture and its fusion of the skill and traditions of the local native people with European Jesuit techniques.

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