In recognition of tourism as an important vehicle for socio-economic development, the president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, has accepted the UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter on Tourism.
The government of Chile commits to support the sector in both the national and the international policy agenda.
The UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter calls on heads of state and government around the world to acknowledge tourism’s key role in delivering more sustained and balanced growth and prioritize the sector higher in national policies in order to maximize its potential.
In a private meeting, Bachelet received the letter from UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai, and the president World Travel and Tourism Council, David Scowsill.
On behalf of the Government of Chile, the minister of economy, Luis Felipe Céspedes, stated that “the Open Letter poses great challenges for Chile”.
He added: “I want to underscore that this government is committed to promote tourism as a strategic pillar, not just because it represents 3.48 per cent of our GDP, but also because it is essential in building our national and territorial identity.”
Tourism in Chile accounts for 280.000 direct jobs, 3.5 per cent of all exports and 25 per cent of service exports of the country.
The recently launched economic programme ‘Chile de todos’ includes tourism as one of the pillars of economic development for the country stressing the capacity of the sector to promote community development, generate multiplier effects in other economic sectors, advance cultural dialogue and protect natural resources.
Scowsill said: “The Chilean Government’s commitment - through this letter - to promoting tourism to the world community as a means of sustainable development comes at a critical time.
“Travel is a major contributor to economic growth, to trade, to job creation, to diversification of the economy and to social well-being in Chile.
“It is vital that the tourism industry in Chile gets the right support and investment at government level and from regulatory bodies to allow the Industry to continue to thrive. Chile has already implemented progressive policies to maximize the growth of travel; for example, introducing open skies agreements and privatizing LAN. But there is still more that can be done.
“I urge the public and private sectors to work together to create jobs and drive economic growth.”
The third most visited destination in South America, Chile welcomed 3.6 million international tourists in 2013.
Between 2000 and 2013, the number of international tourist arrivals grew by over 100 per cent, while international tourism receipts grew from US$819 million to US$2 billion, an increase of nearly 180 per cent, in the same period.