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Puerto Williams poised to become Chile’s Antarctica travel hub

Saturday, April 9th 2011 - 00:13 UTC
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Currently a quiet, easy going village Currently a quiet, easy going village

Chile and the world’s southernmost town, Puerto Williams, is to open up to mass tourism under a new investment program approved by the government.

Local authorities hope to mirror the success of the town’s Argentine counterpart, Ushuaia, a tourism magnet just 25 miles away, and become a centre for Antarctica-bound tourism.

The docks of the secluded settlement perched between the deep primeval “lenga” forest and the Beagle Straits will be expanded by 70 meters to accommodate ocean cruisers.

The 8 million US dollars investment approved by the Ministry of Public works on April 5 aims to boost tourism not only in Puerto Williams but the rest of the Navarino Island, an area of exceptional natural beauty.

The Puerto Williams port works will be open for public bidding in 2012. Longer-term, the authorities are planning to expand the local airport.

The head of the Navarino Island tourist board, Maurice Van de Maele, said: “Many promises have been made to the people of Puerto Williams that have been delayed.

“Now we are working together with the government to realize them.”

At present, only about 2,000 people visit Puerto Williams each year, roughly equivalent to the town’s population.

This figure is dwarfed by Ushuaia, a bustling Argentine port and a tourist mecca of nearly 70,000 people, located just 40 kilometres across the Beagle Straits.

Over 200,000 tourists and 250 cruise ships stop at Ushuaia every year.

By Anatoly Kurmanaev – Santiago Times


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