The number of foreign tourists arriving in Chile during the first half of 2007 increased 11.7% reaching 1.316.936, according to a release from the country's National Tourism Service, Sernatur. In money terms this is equivalent to 818 million US dollars, up 6%.
However the figures are considered misleading since there's being a considerable drop in the number of tourists from those markets Chile has been targeting for the last few years: United States, down 3.8%; Austria, 2.1%; South Korea, 1.8%; Mexico, 0.3%; Spain, France and Italy, down 2% on average. "International competition is stronger every day; we are far behind those countries that have a similar product to Chile and so is our marketing, according to the results. Just to mention Peru and Argentina, they have an international tourism promotion which if three to five times more effective than ours", admitted Oscar Santelices head of Sernatur. "We've targeted the special interests tourism niche, emphasizing on tourists from far distant countries who remain longer and spend more. Therefore we are concerned with the relative loss of interest from Europeans and the sudden drop in the number of US visitors" he added. However regional ("traditional") tourism in the first half of 2007 has returned strongly: the number of Argentine visitors jumped 18.3%; Bolivia, 17.7%; Brazil, 15.8% and Peru, 10.2%. According to Sernatur the destinations most visited by foreign tourists include Santiago and adjacent areas; Valparaiso and Viña; Arica; Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas; Iquique (salt open pits); Pica; La Serena; Coquimbo and the Elqui Valley (wineries).