Home to pristine forests and the indigenous Mapuche people, Chile’s Araucanía Region is rich with tourism potential. However, according to the government, the area needs a facelift in order to capitalize on its resources.
Undersecretary of Tourism Jacqueline Plass recently announced a government plan this week to promote tourism in the southern Chilean region.
”This plan weaves together the concepts of Araucanía’s identity as a tourist destination where you can take part in many experiences promoted by Chile’s tourism industry: nature, sports and adventure, culture and village life; hot springs and spas; entertainment, food and wines; as well as business and convention tourism.”
Various government ministries will oversee the 169 million dollars plan that will run through 2014. The main pillar of the project will be infrastructure improvement.
Projects to improve the La Araucanía International airport and improve roads between the Argentine town of Neuquén and other points on the tourist circuit are slotted to receive 76 million of the total investment.
According to Plass, “(The airport) receives about 150,000 passengers annually and needs technological updates to avoid the high number of flight cancellations and delays that occur.”
Better transportation options are expected to lure foreign tourists, who normally comprise less than 20 percent of visitors to the region.
The government will also implement a geo-referencing system to support the latest generation of wireless technology. The networks will enable tourists to navigate Araucanía with GPS devices.
Tourists can also expect the development of Mapuche tourism packages (around 100 of these already exist in the area) and the establishment of ecotourism in the national parks.
Plass called on entrepreneurs to submit business ideas to increase tourism in protected wildlife areas.
The current plan comes after the US$4 billion investment “Plan Araucanía” was announced in August 2010. The former plan, however, was aimed at eliminating poverty among the Mapuche people instead of enhancing tourism.
By Erin Allen – The Santiago Times