The Adventure Tourism Development Index (ATDI) has had Chile near the top of the list of the top ten developing countries for the past five years. In 2011, it ranked #1. With 10 official UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, Chile is a great choice for adventure travel. So, in September 2014, the Adventure Travel Trade Association announced that Chile would host their annual gathering of major influencers and representatives of the industry at the next Adventure Travel World Summit. The ATTA talked to several local operators in Chile to see how this announcement has affected their business and what their hopes are for the Summit.
Chile’s popularity and success as an adventure tourism destination is not only the result of its natural diversity, but also the result of a lot of hard work and the vision of its industry leaders for sustainable long-term growth. Thorough regulation and international standards, such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria, are at the heart of the growth Chile has had during enjoyed these past few years.
Adventure Travel World Summit in Puerto Varas, Chile
“Not only are the protected areas in the country huge, and the biodiversity and landscapes suitable for adventure tourism,” said Gonzalo Larrain, Chile’s general manager of the 2015 ATWS, “but also the cultural diversity and collaborative work of specialized tour operators mark Chile’s essence as a destination for Nature and Adventure Sustainable Tourism.”
According to Omar Hernández, National Director of Sernatur (Chile’s National Service of Tourism), in 2014 Chile had a growth of 2.7% for international tourist arrivals, with its main markets being Argentina (36.1%) and Brazil (11.1%), and for 2015, it increased its participation in international trade shows and fairs by 60%, and brought home over 28 international events, including the 2015 ATWS, to continue positioning Chile in other international markets.
This growth is the product of a lot of internal regulations for the Chilean tourism industry at large. Over 300 tourism service providers have Chile’s quality seal, known as Sello Q, and over 71 have been granted Sello S, Chile’s sustainable practices seal.
The road towards hosting the 2015 ATWS has been a long one, but it has been paved with skillful strategic intentions.
“What we want for this Summit is to generate a unified group vision and to have the offer linked to sustainability,” said Jorge Moller. “That is at the core of the values we want to highlight.”
This unified vision is displayed in the enthusiasm that local tour operators are pouring into the work they are doing preparing for ATWS. The ATTA currently has 78 Chilean members and there are 115 registered Chilean delegates for the Summit.
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“Chile has a long tradition in the tourism industry of working together,” said Raffaele Di Biase Cuomo, Head Guide & Director of Birds Chile. “It hasn’t been easy. It has been a challenge, but Chile, as a country, in its development politics, has been leading the way. The long distances and isolation in the country have created a bond for those in the industry, and now, working towards the Summit, everyone’s involvement is necessary to highlight the beauty and hospitality of Chile.”
According to Rudyard Ullrich, Market Manager of Adsmundo Chile, hosting ATWS allows the local small operators to experience an international event specializing in adventure: “The most important thing is to understand that the ATWS is a specific event, and that what matters is to see the ripples it causes long term,” he said, adding “There is space for everyone to showcase their products, while working together for a long term growth that creates unique experiences for every tourist that comes to Chile.”