Chile has announced plans to invest $400 million in its passenger and cargo port infrastructure, as part of an ambitious plan to bolster its image as a leading cruise destination.
The South American destination will begin work later this year, with major developments expected to reach fruition in 2013.
The spending complements private investment made by several ports in 2008, with a total value of $340 million.
“Chile has great opportunities for the development of tourism, especially in the cruise industry,” said Teodoro Wigodoski, president of the Southern Cone Port Corporation.
“It is required to continue investing in some port facilities, so cruise ships can dock directly at the port, eliminating the need to use tenders.”
The Ministry of Public confirmed projects would include the expansion of the Port of Valparaíso, development of a new pier at Port Williams, expansion of the Port of Punta Arenas and enhancement of passenger facilities at the Castro Port on Chiloe Island.
“These projects will help us meet the standards of the market by providing additional space to dock alongside in some of the most frequented ports and by improving cruise terminal facilities to offer a more efficient and prompt service to cruise travellers,” added Mr Wigodoski.
The Southern Cone Port Corporation represents the main cruise ports of the country.
The planned expansion of Valparaíso’s cruise terminal - the country’s main cruise port located less than 90 minutes away from Santiago - will considerably increase its cruise ship capacity.
The $1.21 million project is expected to start in 2011 and be completed for the 2013 cruise season. This expansion represents the third stage of development for the Valparaíso terminal, which started in 2001 with the creation of a temporary terminal, followed by a permanent terminal in 2003.
After the planned projects are completed, cruise ships will be able to dock alongside at Punta Arenas and Port Williams, where currently tendering is required.
The expansion of the Punta Arenas port is still in the proposal and research stage, at an estimated $1.1 million investment, while the development of a new pier at Port Williams is expected to be completed for the 2011-12 cruise season.
Construction at the port of Chiloe Island will focus on improving passenger facilities by adding a roofed area to receive cruise passengers, a currency exchange office and souvenir shops, among other improvements, though cruise ships will still have to tender passengers.
The total investment in that project is approximately $5 million.
Commercial port facilities also are included in the government’s ten-year port redevelopment plan.
The overall objective is to increase Chile’s competitiveness in international commerce and coastal tourism, and improve the mainland’s connectivity to the islands by combining public-private efforts to provide better port infrastructure.