PUERTO VARAS, Chile — Chile’s
tourism grew 20% year-over-year in the first half of 2015, growing faster and
with higher gross receipts than exported wine.
And the country’s president,
Michelle Bachelet, wants to keep the momentum going.
She told delegates attending the
Adventure Travel Trade Association's Adventure Travel World Summit that a national plan supporting
sustainable tourism is budgeted to spend $100 million between now and 2018 to
develop new areas of the country, “strengthen human capital” by teaching
English and Portuguese to tourism workers, and promote Chile internationally.
In 2014, nearly 3.7 million visitors pumped
$2.7 billion into the economy, Bachelet said.
She added that more than 200
people had been training local tourism workers to prepare for the 700 attendees
of the Adventure World Travel Summit.
Her government is making the
protection of some natural areas, and development of others, a priority, Bachelet
And an additional $17 million has
been designated to develop 132 miles of trails, 21 miles of bicycle paths and
campgrounds in national parks.
After her speech, Bachelet spoke with
Travel Weekly about current travel-related legislative initiatives. She is
currently negotiating with the mining industry on the topic of permitting
exploitation of resources along some of the country’s 20,000 glaciers. “We’re
having a discussion to decide which ones we’re going to protect. It will be the
majority of them,” she said.
Bachelet, who is 18 months into
her second four-year nonconsecutive term as president, said that her first
administration had passed wide-ranging legislation that gave incentives to
develop the country’s tourism industry, “but we need to update it,” she said.
“We need to see what worked and what needs to be changed.”
She also said that current labor
laws may need to be amended to allow hotel staff to work longer hours. “It’s
not like an 8 to 5 job,” she said. “We need to respect the workers’ rights, but
we need to adapt. Hotels do not work on timetables."
Business and government work well
together on matters related to tourism, she said. “But they have to adapt, and
so do we.”