A new increase in the number of international and local cruise calls is expected this coming season in Punta Arenas. Jorge Norambuena, president of Magallanes Association of Tourism Operators, (Austro Chile) revealed that 71 cruises are scheduled to call in Punta Arenas and/or Puerto Natales, plus another thirty by Punta Arenas based Mare Australis, compared to the 57 and 22 of last season.
Last year the number of cruise visitors to Magallanes Region between November and April reached 45,809, and this season extending until April 2004, at least 49,000 are expected anticipated Mr. Norambuena.
However Mr. Norambuena said that in spite of the good organization involving camp tours to visit tourist farms (estancias), rookeries and even the local program of museums and places of interest in Punta Arenas, "it is essential that the government and private sector adjust their timetable for these visits".
"Given the anticipated programs we know that fifteen cruise calls will take place on Sunday, so the Post Office for example should be open helping visitors to send post cards and any mail they wish", suggested Mr. Norambuena, "which naturally must be extensive to museums, restaurants, shopping malls".
Similarly further options of rookeries should be encouraged such as in the island of Magdalena because "penguins in Otway sometimes are exposed to 300/500 visitors per day which is contrary to conservation and a good tourism policy".
Mr. Norambuena also said that Austro Chile was more than surprised by the announcement that Punta Arenas main square and leading to the port area, "will be closed from November until April when it will be remodelled".
"We think it's a most unfortunate decision since this coincides with the cruise season when visiting the square to touch the foot of the famous statue of the Ona Indian has become a good luck tradition for all those visitors to Punta Arenas", stressed Mr. Norambuena.
"Austro Chile believes that during the summer season, extending from November to April, the whole community beginning by its officials and the private sector must be fully tourist minded, doing their utmost to satisfy visitors and hopefully ensuring that they will return or become excellent public relations for our Region", concluded Mr. Norambuena.