COPIAPO, Chile – Chile expects to receive some 4 million foreign tourists this year, up from 3.6 million in 2014, Tourism Undersecretary Javiera Montes said.
“In the past 10 years, we’ve increased tourist arrivals by almost 100 percent,” Montes said in her speech at the close of the annual conference of the Chilean Association of Tourism Companies in Copiapo, 800 kilometers (about 500 miles) north of Santiago.
The main tourist-sending region for Chile is Latin America, from where 77.4 percent of all foreign arrivals came, the official said, acknowledging that it is a challenge for Chile to attract tourists from other parts of the world, especially the United States and Europe.
After announcing a year ago $100 million in public investment in the sector for 2015-2018, the tourism ministry on Monday released its National Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development.
The program “will allow efforts and resources to be focused on 83 priority destinations all around Chile,” Montes said.
“There is a great desire in the sector for us to be able to be more competitive, especially being able to have more resources for international (tourism) promotion, and the president (Michelle Bachelet) has doubled the resources from now until 2018,” she emphasized.
“Today, there are resources, there is priority, there is a clear strategy about where we have to go. Now, we only need to take the plunge to achieve the aim of the plan, and this is only possible if we all work together, because the state cannot do it alone,” said Montes before some 200 representatives of Chilean tourism companies.
The Chilean tourist industry annually brings in some $7.3 billion.
In 2004, the country welcomed 1.8 million tourists, but that number had grown to 3.6 million by 2014.
Montes’ announcement was received with high hopes by the Chilean Association of Tourism Companies, the president of which, Guillermo Correa, told EFE that the sector appreciates the increase in funding for tourism promotion.