Chile's renowned Torres del Paine national park in Patagonia is also suffering the consequences of the global slowdown according to visitors numbers released by the regional Forestry and Parks Department, Conaf.
Compared to a year ago Torres del Paine suffered a loss of 6% of visitors in September, 6.9% in October and 5.5% in November. Conaf regional head Michael Arcos admits that effectively there's an "inflexion point in growth numbers", and this is particularly evident regarding foreign visitors, which on average was 9.7% down. Alvaro Lizama head of Chile's regional Sernatur (Tourism Office) says that so far this year "we have experienced four months with loss of visitors (the three above mentioned plus April)" and tourism will not expand two digits as was becoming normal. He said 8% can be considered a fairer growth in 2008, totalling 138.000 visitors compared to 128.396 in 2007. "This is showing a decreasing tendency for the coming months of January, February and March", he added although he also complained the lack of a promotion campaign to attract visitors. The president of the Tourism chamber from Ultima Esperanza province in the extreme south of Chile, Teobaldo Ruiz said the world slowdown has had an impact in Puerto Natales, which has seen fewer tourists since the season begun. However he pointed out as the main cause the non implementation of the Patagonia Promotion Plan this year. Ruiz said that the real impact of the global crisis would begin to be felt as of next year, since foreigners purchase their travel packages with sufficient anticipation. However this year definitively "we're not going to grow at a two digits percentage without promotion". Ruiz added that in moments of crisis is when services must be improved and promotion reinforced if "we want to keep acceptable levels of growth for the tourism industry".