After almost three disastrous years for the international tourism industry and in particular, for the cruise business, Chilean operators are focused on the coming 2022/23 season, point out industry sources in Punta Arenas, the extreme south of Chile, and a hub for Antarctic tours.
The company managing the Punta Arenas port, Empresa Portuaria Austral, expects some 150 cruise calls this coming austral summer, which means a trend close to the last one before the pandemic outbreak, 2019/20
This has been helped mostly by a relaxation of sanitary measures, which has benefitted mostly Antarctic cruises, which has also facilitated the access of tourists by air and by land, with the opening of some passes to Argentina.
According to Punta Arenas tourism officials, in the 2021/22 season some 90 calls were registered, of which 70 international and 20 domestic. This involved 11,720 passengers, 9,520 international and 2,200 from domestic cruises.
The Punta Arenas hub was the most active with 74 calls, followed by Puerto Williams with 13 and Puerto Natales, three. It must be pointed out that most cruises involved were tours to Antarctica.
Chile's regional director of Sernatur, (tourism office), Ximena Castro said that prospects are positive and hopefully will consolidate the significance of ports for the Magallanes region economy and trade. We must be capable of planning for a sustainable destination, it remains a great challenge.