Tourism in Chile represents an important source of income as it happens in most countries. The negative impact the pandemic has on the international tourism, has made governments be on the alert to reactivate the economy of this sector.
As an example of the devastating effects of the pandemic, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) registered the international tourism revenue dropped -64%, compared to 2019. The expenditure of international visitors was about USD 536 billion, way below the USD 1,466 billion in 2019.
Chile was not the exception. During April and May 2021, no international arrivals were registered due to closed borders for reasons of public health emergency. However, the situation gets better in the following months and in the long run.
Let’s see why Chilean tourism has great opportunities as well as the profile of visitors who arrive to the country.
The initiatives of Chile
Chilean authorities have placed their attention in reactivating tourism, joining forces with different organizations and enterprises.
One of the activities took place on March 22 and 29, 2021, where the Chilean Association of Tourism Companies (Achet, for its acronym in Spanish), the Federation of Tourism Companies of Chile (Fedeturs, for its acronym in Spanish), and Santiago Chamber of Commerce (SCC) foster the Travel Sale event.
The aim of the event was to encourage traveling abroad and to Chile. Travel agencies, airlines, car rental companies, among others offered a variety of promotions and discounts for going on vacations.
On the other hand, the Undersecretary of Tourism designed a guideline with the objective of providing tools to support the companies in the sector. Among those tools we can find:
- PAR Impulsa Turismo: The program created by the Production Development Corporation (CORFO, for its acronym in Spanish), which encourages SMEs to restart their activities or boost their businesses.
- Ruta Digital Comercialización Turística: a course carried out by The Technical Corporation Service (SERCOTEC, for its acronym in Spanish) and The National Tourism Service (SERNATUR, for its acronym in Spanish), whose objective is offering digital tools to companie to innovate and improve the services they offer.
- Hygiene protocols and good practices in tourism sector: a guideline where companies and businesses of the tourism sector are instructed to comply with the hygiene protocols established.
Chile among the countries with the highest rate of vaccinated population
Besides these initiatives, the country has become a destination due to the safety it offers in terms of health. By June 2021, Chile ranked among the first places of the countries with the highest rate of vaccinated population. An important aspect that tourists take into account when they choose their destinations.
At the same time, having a high rate of vaccinated population, implies that the Chilean tourist will be among the first in restarting their accustomed trips. As an example, many Chileans have traveled to the countries whose borders are opened to international tourists, as in the case of Mexico, Brazil and the United States.
In the latest Home Budgets survey made by the National Statistics Institute of Chile (INE, for its acronym in Spanish) showed that 3,4% of the Chilean homes announced expenditures in international travel packages.
The same survey revealed that in annual average, the families who decided to travel abroad expended CLP $2.525.594
The key is in technology
The use of digital tools revolutionized the way in which people obtain products and services. Tourism has also adapted its processes and services to offer tourists a better experience.
Different payment platforms, initiatives towards financial democratization and population’s access to internet have made that airlines, tourism service companies, travel agencies or travel insurance companies offer online services, with more payment options.
Measures to digitalize tourism companies are correlated to the consume habits of the Chilean population, as Chile is the second country with the largest digital growth in Latin America, according to a study made by PageGroup.
The preferred payment methods by tourists in Chile
Chile offers many payment options. Thanks to their digital growth, every tourist can easily make purchases without having large amounts of cash.
The tourist who visits Chile usually pays with credit card. According to numbers from Transbank, the expenditure with foreign credit cards, during the first trimester in 2020 was about UF 9,4 million.
This represents a decline of 32% compared to the expenditure registered the previous year. A similar situation experienced by countries of the region as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay.
Arrival of foreigners
The numbers concerning the arrival of foreigners were not positive either. According to numbers from the Federation of Tourism Companies of Chile (FEDETUR, for its acronym in Spanish), 1,1 million of international tourists arrived at the country, 75,5% less than the previous year.
Regarding the domestic tourism, only 12,5 million of travels were registered compared to the 23,7 million travels last year.
It is expected the numbers improved in 2022. An aspect that will influence the fulfillment of the predictions will be the vaccination process and the management of the new COVID-19 variants. However, authorities put their faith in domestic tourism, giving permissions so Chileans can travel within the territory, training the companies of the sector on hygiene protocols and offering courses and funding.
The future of tourism in Chile
The future of tourism in Chile is linked to the rest of the world. The successful vaccination in the world means a higher circulation of people and, therefore, more arrival of visitors to Chile.
Even when the situation is still very complex to talk about a complete recovery of the tourism sector, the authorities and organizations in the industry are relying on technology, e-commerce and other digital tools to stimulate companies and SMEs.
 Undersecretary of Tourism. Tourism barometer, June 2021. Turismo, junio 2021.