This past September, AdventureEDU returned to Aysén, Chile, the country’s least populated region, with three one-day sessions. Last year, AdventureEDU trainings in the region reached professionals in the towns of Coyhaique and Chile Chico. The 2018 trainings, each of which consisted of the same content, offered first-class education to inbound adventure travel operators, guides, and accommodation providers in Cochrane (10 September), Puerto Cisnes (13 September), and Puerto Aysen (14 September).
Ninety-seven participants joined Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) educators Ana Ines Figueroa of Adventure & Landscape and Jorge Moller of Regenera ONG for a full day of education and interactive workshops. Topics of discussion touched on adventure travel product development, current industry trends, and working with international markets.
Hosted by Sernatur, Aysén’s regional tourism board, the AdventureEDU trainings took into account that, due to the Aysén region’s remoteness, local people working in adventure travel have limited opportunities to gather together to discuss the latest trade trends and access outside industry knowledge. As a result, these sessions provided educational training to and helped amplify the voices of AdventureEDU participants who receive minimal direct attention in this regard. Having lived and worked in southern Chile for 20 years, Moller, now an industry veteran, understands the local sentiments well. “It is so difficult for a small company to understand the needs and the process without having access to knowledge and to the market,” he said.
Though these trainings are meant to foster growth over a long period of time and positive impacts may not be immediately apparent, both the ATTA and Sernatur remain committed to developing responsible adventure tourism in the Aysén region. The fact AdventureEDU returned to Aysén this year to reach even more people in different locations is a testament to that long-term commitment and the strength of the organizations’ relationship.
While the area shows potential for adventure travel development, Figueroa noted the importance of implementing programming and protocols in a sustainable and appropriate manner. “The region needs to maintain a low number of visitors so that the remoteness of the area — a highlight — can be experienced,” she said. “Local operators need to further improve skills and expertise to be able to attract a more demanding clientele — better tourists and not more tourists. There is potential for growth, but this needs to be organic and focused on quality and not quantity.”
In addition to receiving relevant information and practical tips for improving their businesses, participants had an opportunity to network and share knowledge with fellow entrepreneurs and business owners. At the close of the trainings, participants left feeling inspired and hopeful about Aysén’s future and tourism potential. “This day was excellent. Both exhibitors taught us technical marketing skills and some business information to show how we can align our company with different target audiences than we have been,” said participant Thamars Gonzales. “It was a very enriching day where we could also make links with other entrepreneurs.”
Participant David Troncoso also noted the importance of connecting with other regional professionals. “I am very happy because today I understand that tourism is a union,” he said. “There is a healthy coexistence, and we have to continue to encourage that so the Aysén region and Puerto Aysén can fully develop their tourist potential.”
As this corner of the world continues to explore its full adventure tourism potential, it also offers an opportunity to model proper implementation of sustainable practices. “We have a mission there, and we have a tremendous challenge,” Moller said. “Aysén is one of the beauties left in the world. It’s got incredible resources, and we need to teach human beings how to use these resources appropriately, which can be a challenge. I see this place hopefully as one of the first regions of Chile where things can be properly done regarding quality and sustainability.”