Tourism in Chile

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Promotional videos on tourism in Chile and Easter Island of Sernatur.

Since the mid-1990s, the tourism in Chile has become one of the main economic resources of the country, especially in its most extreme areas. In 2005 this sector grew by 13.6%, generating more than 500 millions US dollars, equivalent to 1.33% of national GDP.

According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), Chile was the eighth popular destination for foreign tourists within America in 2010, after USA, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.[1] That year entered the country 2 766 000 tourists generated revenue of USD 1 636 million[2] The majority of these visitors came from American countries, mainly Argentina; however, the biggest growth in recent years has corresponded to visitors of Europe, especially Germany[3] During the first quarter of 2011, came more than 1 043 000 tourists, which represented an increase of 9,2 % over the same period last year,[4] which became a total of 3 069 792 until the end of the year.[3]

Located in the southwest corner of South America, Chile it describes normally made up of three geographic areas.[5] The first one, known as continental Chile, comprises a long and narrow strip of land on the west coast of Southern Cone that extends between the parallels 17°29'57" S and 56°32'12" S, mostly from the southeastern shore of the Pacific Ocean to the Andes throughout 4270 km [6] The second, called insular Chile, corresponds to a set of islands volcanic origin in the South Pacific Ocean: the Juan Fernández archipelago and Desventuradas Islands, belonging to South America, the Salas y Gómez Island and Easter Island Geographically located in the Polynesia. The third, called Chilean Antarctic Territory,[7] is an area of the Antarctica[8] de 1 250 257,6 km² between meridians 53° W and 90° W on which Chile claims sovereignty, extending its southern boundary to the South Pole. Because of its presence in America, Oceania and Antarctica, Chile describes itself as a country tricontinental.[5][9][10]

The latitudinal width of the country, which spans over 39 degrees, which reach more than 72 if include the Chilean Anthartic Territory-, its relief and influence of the Pacific Ocean are the main factors behind the climatic variety and landscape of Chile,[5] which determines the development of the formation of different ecosystems in the country.

The main Chilean attractions correspond to its coast of 6435 km long,[11] the Andes, with its ski resorts, its mountains and volcanoes - islands and archipelagos -Easter Island is one of the Chilean main attractions, and landscapes venues -integrated by 14 natural monuments, 36 National Parks, 10 biosphere reserves, 52 natural reserves, 39 sanctuaries of Nature and 12 Ramsar sites-, mainly of the extreme parts of the country.[12]

Among the souvenirs of Chile, include the wines, work on copper and wood, textiles and crafts in general.[13]

Norte Grande[edit]

Atacama Desert, the driest in the world [14] —in October 2014, the travel guide publisher Lonely Planet highlighted this desert as the ninth among the ten regions that had to go in 2015—;[15] which has been inhabited for several thousand years, makes up the main portion of Norte Grande. A myriad of geoglyphs, petroglyphs and pictographs attest the presence of ancient cultures in the area. Among the most remarkable are those of Azapa Valley, Lluta Valley, the Atacama Giant and Pintados Geoglyphs, these latter are protected within Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve. R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum and Archaeological Museum of San Miguel de Azapa are home to the most important collections of artifacts and mummies in Chile, including the famous Chinchorro mummies, the oldest mummies in the world,[16] of Chinchorro culture developed between 5000 and 1700. C. The extreme aridity of the Atacama has been a key factor in the preservation of such archaeological remains. the Chuquicamata copper deposit, the largest open pit mine in the world;.[17] And the remains of extractions made from 12,000 and 10,000 years ago in a mine of iron oxide, the oldest mine on the continent.[18][19]

Arica is a coastal city with beautiful beaches and is also a starting point for travelers heading east to Putre for enjoying the majestic Puna landscape of Lauca National Park. Southward from Lauca, Volcán Isluga National Park includes ceremonial sites for the Aymara people.

Inland from Iquique, the desolate pampas are home to a few scattered towns and villages. Among those, the most interesting is the ghost town of Humberstone, declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2005. In this area the tamarugo forests of the Pampa del Tamarugal break the barren monotony of the landscape.

The altiplano of Norte Grande has a wide variety of natural scenery including salt flats, volcanoes, lakes and geysers. San Pedro de Atacama and surrounding area offer one of most spectacular combinations of archeology and awe-inspiring natural sights. San Pedro was the cradle of the Atacameño Culture. Villages with interesting cultural past are Caspana, Toconao, Socaire and Chiu Chiu. Notable are also the pre-Hispanic fortresses of Quitor, Lasana and Turi. Antofagasta is the largest city in Norte Grande. La Portada, a stunning natural arch, is located a short drive from Antofagasta.

Pan de Azúcar National Park is a park where sea and desert meet.

Also, there more than a dozen of astronomical facilities, including optical observatories and radio observatories. Among others, the most important are: Paranal (VLT), at an altitude of 2635 meters above sea level, is the world's most advanced and powerful astronomical observatory.[20] the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array), to date the largest astronomical project in the world;[21][22] and La Silla,[23] all dependent of ESO (European Southern Observatory).

In this area, it can see the flowering desert, a phenomenon that occurs between September and November (most in last years) with normal range rainfall in the desert.[24] In the end of the Norte Grande, near Putre, it can see the set formed by the Lake Chungará, one of the highest lakes in the world with 4500 m,[25] and Parinacota volcano. San Pedro de Atacama is very visited by foreign tourists to appreciate the architecture of the town, the highland lakes the Moon Valley, so-named because its landscape resembles the moon.

The coastal resorts of the area Norte Grande like Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta- host to the national tourism during the summer months.

Norte Chico[edit]

The Andes of Norte Chico are home to many of the highest volcanoes in the world, the highlight being the Ojos del Salado of 6891.3 m, the world´s highest volcano and the highest peak in Chile[26] -the second of the continent and Southern and Western hemisphere-.[27] Apart from Ojos del Salado and the rest of the volcanoes, attractions in this portion of the Andes include Nevado Tres Cruces National Park and Laguna Verde.

Norte Chico boasts some of the best beaches and exclusive coastal resorts in the country, such as Bahía Inglesa and those of La Serena, and Coquimbo - also these host to the national tourism during the summer months.

The clear skies of Norte Chico and its world-renowned infrastructure have made it ideal for astronomical tourism[citation needed].

Elqui Valley is a very popular destination. In January 2015, the travel section of The New York Times said the Elqui Valley as the 5th of the 52 places it had to visit in 2015.[28] Here, the dazzling green of the valley floor contrasts nicely with the barren brown slopes of the mountains that flank it.

Here it found El Tatio Geyser Field, the largest geyser fields in the Southern Hemisphere and the third in the world.[29]

The syncretism between Aymara tradition and Catholicism it has produced festivals and religious traditions -such as those dedicated to Virgen del Carmen in La Tirana and to Virgin of Andacollo- and carnivals. The Baile chino, one of the manifestations of religious fervor, was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2014.[30]

Zona Central[edit]

This area is home to the main ski resorts in Chile, which attract a significant number of tourists from the northern hemisphere because the reversed alpine skiing season. They are Chapa Verde, Portillo, Valle Nevado and Termas de Chillán. Furthermore, Wine tourism is common in Zona Central, and the Wine Routes of the Casablanca, Cachapoal and Colchagua valleys are some of the finest in Chile.

Apart from the national capital itself and its many attractions, the metropolitan region surrounding Santiago includes several attractions such as the Cajón del Maipo, Pomaire, and some of the oldest vineyards in the country, as well as various archaeological sites.[31]

Due to its proximity to the capital, the coast of the Valparaiso Region is that during the summer months it has the largest number of tourists, primarily in the central coast and Viña del Mar. The latter city is considered the tourist capital of Chile[32] for its importance in the area thanks to its thirteen beachs,[33] its various entertainment centers -has one of major casinos of the country-,[34] and the International Song Festival of Viña del Mar, -the largest and best-known festival of Latin America, and considered the main of American continent.-.[35][36][37]

Valparaíso is a wonderful, amphitheater-shaped city, whose historic quarter has been recognized as a World Heritage Site.

Santiago, the capital and main urban center of Chile, home to many historic sites and heritage. Within the Greater Santiago, there are 174 heritage sites under the custody of Nationals Monuments Council (CMN),[38] among which are archaeological, architectural and historical monuments, in addition to typical or picturesque areas. Of these, 93 are located within the commune of Santiago, considered the historic center of the city[39] Although no Santiagan monument was even declared World Heritage by UNESCO, three have already been proposed by the Chilean government: the Incan sanctuary cerro El Plomo, the church and convent of San Francisco and Palace of La Moneda[40] Meanwhile, in June 2012, the magazine National Geographic listed the Central Market of Santiago as fifth out of the ten best in the world.[41] In January 2011, the travel section of The New York Times listed the city of Santiago as the first of the 41 places it had to visit that year,[42] while TripAdvisor considered it the sixth best destination of South America in 2012.[43]

The O'Higgins Region, south of Santiago, is known as "Huaso country" for its rural criollo culture.[44] Pichilemu, in the O'Higgins Region, is reputed to have the best beaches for Surfing in Chile, if not the world.[45] Other tourist sites in the O'Higgins region include the historically significant city of Rancagua, and the Rio de los Cipreses nature reserve.

Furthermore, in this area of the country are El Teniente, the most underground mine of copper in the world,[46] and the mining town of Sewell, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006.

Further south in the Maule and Bio Bio regions are the Radal Siete Tazas National Reserve and Laguna del Laja National Park.

Zona Sur[edit]

See also: Zona Sur

Araucanía Region is the heartland of the Mapuche people. This area exhibits an incipient development of Indigenous tourism, in different sectors. in the coastal area of Araucania Ethnological tourism is developed on the banks Mapuche Budi Lake.

The Chilean Patagonia, the circuit of the Seven Lakes and various national parks like Conguillío, Vicente Pérez Rosales, the oldest in Chile and most visited of the country in 2011;[47] Puyehue National Park between others.

The Andean sector of Araucania, highlight the great national parks, such as Conguillio National Park the forest of araucarias, Villarrica National Park, huerquehue National Park, Tolhuaca National Park besides the national reserves as Alto Biobio National Reserve, Malalcahuello National Reserve, Nalcas National Reserve, Malleco National Reserve, China Muerta National Reserve.

The capital of Araucania is Temuco, city of different service, hotels, tourist circuits, airport, markets, and the symbolic and historic sectors, the Cerro Ñielol Natural Monument is an icon of this city, and the most important tourist point.

Valdivia is one of Chile's most beautiful cities, recognition received mainly because of its lush natural surrounding. South from the city lies the colonial Valdivian Fort System.

Also in this area of the country are the Lake O'Higgins, the deepest lake of America and fifth in the world with 836 meters;[48] On the other hand, several studies have located the oldest archaeological remains of the current Chilean continental territory in Monte Verde,[49] Los Lagos Region, about 14,800 B.C.,[50] at the end of Upper Paleolithic, making it the first known human settlement in America.[51]

The Lake District is characterized by piedmont lakes crowned by snowcapped volcanoes, whose lower flanks are covered with lush forests of native trees. Lovely lake resorts towns and villages dot the lakesides, chiefly Pucón, Villarrica, Frutillar and Puerto Varas. Puerto Montt is the tourist hub of the region; two of them, were considered among the best destinations in South America in 2012 by the specialized tourism site TripAdvisor.

The almost perfect cone of Osorno Volcano is an iconic landmark in the region. Alike Villarrica Volcano, which is one of the few volcanoes in the world that have an active Lava lake.

As an added bonus, this zone includes the granite domes of the Cochamó Valley.

Zona Austral[edit]

See also: Zona Austral

Zona Austral is a premier destination for Ecotourism and Adventure travel. It features countless islands and islets, a maze of steep-sided fjords and channels, large glaciers and icefields and exuberant unspoilt temperate rainforests. Turbulent rivers descend from the Andes, chief of those being the Futaleufú River, which is widely considered one of the world's most challenging rivers for whitewater kayaking and rafting. Other opportunities for outdoor recreation, include hiking, cycling, sea kayaking and flyfishing.

Chiloé is characterized by having a rolling green countryside, but is better known for its peculiar wooden architecture and for its culture, which is full of myths and traditions. Also is remarkable its temperate rainforests.

The scenic Carretera Austral crosses or is nearby to many of the most popular destinations in this portion of Chile. Those include Pumalín Park, Yelcho Lake, Queulat National Park, Cerro Castillo National Reserve, General Carrera Lake and Caleta Tortel.

Laguna San Rafael National Park is the only park where visitors can contemplate at the same time the huge glaciers of Patagonia and the rich diversity of plants of the Valdivian Ecoregion.

Torres del Paine was selected as the eighth wonder of the world in 2013;,[52][53] one of the most beautiful national parks in the world.

In the ice fields, the Glacier Pío XI (or Brüggen), the longest glacier in the southern hemisphere outside the Antarctic,[54] and one of the few advancing glaciers in the world; and Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world [55][56]

The sprawling glaciers of the Cordillera Darwin, which is contained within Alberto de Agostini National Park, are reachable only by boat. Other typical destinations are Puerto Williams and Cape Horn.

Chile insular[edit]

See also: Easter Island
Easter Island-Rapa Nui paintings of Tangata Manu (Birdmen) Frigate Birds in the "cave of the maneaters"

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island, is world-renowned for its cultural, unique and natural heritage. Traditionally called Rapa Nui and previously known as Te pito o te henua ("The navel of the world") and Mata ki te rangi ('eyes looking at the sky'), is one of the main tourist destinations in Chile because of its natural landscapes and mysterious ancient culture of Rapa Nui people that since immemorial times, were developed completely isolated for centuries until it almost became extinct in the mid-19th century [57][58] Its most notable vestige corresponds to the over 1000[59] enormous and mysterious statues which have been shrouded in mystery since its discovery, are known as moai. To preserve these characteristics, the government given through the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) the Rapa Nui National Park, while UNESCO declared this park as a World Heritage Site in 1995.[60] It is named Easter Island because it was discovered on Easter Sunday in 1722.

Among the activities that can be carried out in Rapa Nui are the different excursions and tours, visit the craft market, the Padre Sebastián Englert Anthropological Museum, the ceremonial center Tahai, the quarries of Puna Pau and Rano Raraku, the differents ahus the beaches of Anakena and Ovahe, the archaeological site of Orongo,[61] witness shows with music and island dances, and the annual festival Tapati Rapa Nui, the main artistic and cultural activity of the island, where are performed a series of ceremonies and traditions.[62]

The Juan Fernández archipelago is also well known for its jungles and endemic flora, formed by the islands Robinson Crusoe, Santa Clara and Alexander Selkirk, its geological origin is volcanic and its subtropical weather is rainy. Varied are the activities that can be performed, among which hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling, spearfishing, fishing, and observation of flora and fauna, which is mostly endemic. The Juan Fenández Islands are also known for being inhabited by Alexander Selkirk, the man who inspired the Robinson Crusoe novel. In 1966 the Chilean government renamed Island Más Afuera to Alejandro Selkirk and Island Más a Tierra to Robinson Crusoe, in order to promote tourism. Incidentally, Selkirk never set foot on Más Afuera, only on Más a Tierra. It can access the islands by the air and sea routes.

Chilean Antarctic Territory[edit]

According to information gathered by the National Tourism Service (Sernatur), 35,000 tourists visited the Antarctic[8] in the 2012-2013 season by 32% more than in the 2011-2012 season, when it was visited by 26,500 people-; most of them Europeans (34%).[63] Of the total percentage of visitors, 5% did so from Chile[63]

Winter Tourism[edit]

In Chile from June to September it is possible to practice Winter Sports, especially skiing and snowboarding [64] During the Andes, between the regions of Valparaíso and Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, there are eighteen ski resorts of international quality,[65] as Portillo, the oldest ski resort in South America and home to the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 1966,[66] and Valle Nevado,[67] which has one of the largest ski areas in South America[68]

World Heritage Sites in Chile[edit]

As part of the cultural heritage of Chile, there are buildings, objects and sites of archaeological, nature, architecture, handicraft, artistic, ethnographic, folk, historical, religious or technological scattered throughout the Chilean territory. Among them are those assets declared World Heritage by UNESCO, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, of 1972, ratified by Chile in 1980.[69] These cultural sites are:[60]

Ethical Traveler Destination[edit]

Chile has been included in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 lists of "The Developing World's 10 Best Ethical Destinations." This is an annual ranking produced by Ethical Traveler magazine, which is based on a study of developing nations from around the world to identify the best tourism destinations among them. The benchmarking uses categories such as environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights.[70][71][72]

Touristic Projects[edit]

Within Bicentennial projects, the National Tourism Service (Sernatur) dependent-entity of Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism - launched in 2011 the first circuit of the touristic project "Rutas Chile", which aims to bring "more distinctive elements [...] in geographical matters, cultural, heritage and tourism [integrating] fundamental elements of national identity, the presence of featured tourist products [...] and the existence of road structure."[73] These tourist routes cover the fifteen regions of Chile and formed according to a main theme, which is determined by the contents available along the route.[74]

The table listed below, are named the eleven tourist circuits and the regions of Chile, in ISO code,[75] who participate in them.[73]

Tourist circuits of Chile
«Chile routes» AP TA AN AT CO VS MR LI ML BI AR LR LL AI MA
«Route of the desert» Yes Yes Yes Yes
«Route of the stars» Yes
«Route of the sea» Yes
«Capital route» Yes
«Great route of the wine» Yes Sí Yes Sí Yes
«Route of the coves» Yes
«Native route» Yes Yes
«Ruta of the interlakes» Yes Yes Yes
«Route of the islands» Yes Yes
«Austral adventure route» Yes
«Route of the Chilean Patagonia» Yes

Hotel industry[edit]

The availability of hotel beds reaches over 22,500 in Santiago[76] According to Sernatur, and according to services they offer and the requirements with which compliance, there are ten five star hotels in Chile.[77] Ordered from north to south, its are:

  • Hotel Gavina in Iquique.
  • Hotel Desierto in Antofagasta.
  • Hotel del Mar in Viña del Mar.
  • Hotel Kennedy in Santiago.
  • Hotel Plaza San Francisco in Santiago.
  • Hotel Regal Pacific in Santiago.
  • Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza in Santa Cruz.
  • Hotel Termas de Puyehue Wellness & Spa in Puyehue.
  • Hotel Cumbres Patagónicas in Puerto Varas.
  • Hotel Patagónico in Puerto Varas.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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