PUNTA ARENAS, Chile – Chile’s far southern Magallanes region is the ideal spot for the development of “industry without smokestacks” because of its experience with Antarctic nature and adventure expeditions and so-called special interest tourism.
“The eyes of the world are focused on this region,” said Lorena Araya Guarda, the regional director of Chile’s Sernatur tourism service, who participated on Tuesday in the Scientific Circulation and Innovation Hackathon in the Chilean city of Punta Arenas, a forum that has attracted young entrepreneurs from seven South American countries.
“We’re determined to diversity the tourism that comes to the region, beyond Torres del Paine, which has been the iconic spot internationally for tourists. We also have other riches that are beginning to become known,” Araya said.
In fact, the extensive territory of about 132,000 square kilometers (about 51,000 square miles), with its low population density of just 1.25 per square km boasts natural sites that attract numerous foreign visitors.
Magallanes contains five parks and three national preserves where an abundance of varied flora and fauna may be seen in Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica and around Cape Horn and the Strait of Magellan, which in 2020 will celebrate the 500th anniversary of its discovery.
“We Magallanes residents have discovered that we have a great natural heritage and we’re launching many initiatives, Araya – the moving force behind the Tourist Awareness program – said enthusiastically.
“We’re talking about visitors who are attracted by science and conscience, tourists who want to take care of and preserve the (nature),” she said, adding that often these travelers “have more awareness about the region than those of us who live here and they want to see spots where we’ve never been.”
“Our Tourist Awareness program involves us being good hosts, so that when the visitors leave they become our best ambassadors,” she went on to say.
The residents of Chile’s Patagonia have already taken note of the importance of living in a privileged territory where the past can be preserved, the present enjoyed and one can watch the future unfold.
“Therefore, we’ve made progress ... in paleontology and speleology, as well as other activities that allow us to see not only the riches that are above the earth but also those that lie below.”
“Magallanes is the gateway to Antarctica,” said Araya, who expressed her thanks for the support of the Chilean Antarctic Institute, the scientific entity that in the coming weeks will launch the largest expedition in its history comprised of almost 200 scientists from about 20 countries.