The tourism industry in Chile generated 2.4 billion US dollars during the 2006/07 summer season according to Oscar Santelices, head of the country's National Tourism Service, Sernatur.
According to official Sernatur figures, 640.000 foreign tourists visited Chile between December 15 and February 28, while an estimated 6.5 million Chileans spent their annual holidays in the country. "With these numbers Chile is rapidly becoming an internationally recognized tourism destination", said Santeciles who added that the number of foreign visitors is increasing year after year and "it's very important to ensure its sustainability". Mr. Santeciles revealed that changes are taking place in the traveling pattern of Chileans because "we're spending our holidays inside the country". "This means breaking from the inertia of traveling where one has relatives or there are other links. Now Chileans are more adventurous, particularly young people are looking for new circuits, new routes, new challenges", said Santeciles. Among the Chilean destinations which experienced a major increase of tourists this season compared to a year ago are Osorno, 36%; Puerto Montt, 32%; Easter Island, 26%; La Serena, 25.7% and Punta Arenas, 19%.