How Chile has become the South American leader in sustainable tourism

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As consumers become more concerned about the environment and the impact of their travel, Chile is becoming a key player in sustainable tourism. It’s a potential win-win: travelers enjoy the culture and respect the environment, and the locals involved earn a living without having to cut down forests or pollute the air. Here we take a closer look at this growing market.

Chile offers a whole host of stunning landscapes and places untouched by mass tourism. It’s the perfect destination to become a key player in the sustainable tourism industry. One example is the Torres del Paine trekking tour, which offers a unique insight into the country’s natural beauty and an impressive experience, without over-commercialization or the need to damage nature.

Global Warming

As the world continues to record scorching summers and documentaries like Blue Planet highlight the damage we are doing, it is hard to deny that climate change is one of the biggest threats to the future of our planet. In the past 18 years, 17 were the warmest on record, and carbon dioxide levels are at their highest levels in hundreds of thousands of years.

Global sea levels are rising, pollution is bleaching the Barrier Reef, and deforestation is killing millions of animals every year. Whether you’re an avid nature lover or you prefer the comfort of a luxury air-conditioned hotel room, climate change is no longer a niche issue affecting only environmentalists – it’s something everyone must take into consideration, from pollution, waste, and food consumption to travel and tourism.

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Millennials are the most environmentally-conscious generation to date, and while many look to travel the world to take Instagram selfies and see new sights, a new era of online activism encourages many to stay in their home countries or look to sustainable tourism to reduce the impact of their travel and give back to the countries and communities in which they visit. In markets like Chile, where eco-tourism is on the rise, significant business opportunities await.

Sustainable Tourism in Chile

Chile offers a wide variety of sights and experiences with its vast natural landscape, and real opportunities for active tourism. Nevertheless, some have argued that the market is tough to commercialize. With so many startups in Chile going on to achieve great things, however, the truth is that businesses must adapt to consumer demand and the changing times.

Considering the rugged Andes, the hard-to-reach Patagonia, and the dry Atacama, the country is one of extremes. Combine these areas with the huge number of national parks, and it is clear to see why Chile is becoming a favorite among extreme tourists and those wanting to experience a greener, cleaner way of travel, particularly millennials.

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The popularity of Chile’s natural landscapes and new sustainable tourism offerings has led to some critical thinking within the Chilean tourism branch. As the main reason for visiting Chile for many tourists is the wild nature it offers, it would be a shot in the foot to allow wild nature to become tampered with – indeed, this largest attraction must be handled carefully.

On top of these concerns, the Chilean government has been working to promote sustainable tourism for a number of years, creating The National System for Distinction of Sustainable Tourism to offer businesses “recognized” certification status and encourage new investments in the sector.

On the flipside, the government is closely monitoring companies and individuals who do not adapt to sustainable tourism, imposing sanctions and sometimes more extreme punishments for those who do not respect nature and wildlife. The Leave No Trace Seven Principles scheme, for example, provides guidance to individuals and businesses, helping them to protect the natural world and avoid human-created impacts.

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Company Policies

There are a number of success stories in the Chilean sustainable tourism industry and many initiatives, and indeed far too many to mention in full. However, one company that stands out in the market is Eco-Camps, a hospitality firm that offers trekking tours through Patagonia. As well as being named one of the best hotels or campsites in the world, the company has adopted its own responsible tourism policy that builds upon the Chilean tourism policies set out by the government.

This policy includes points related to delivering high-quality experiences, developing an environmentally-friendly tourism offering, supporting local conservation, and offering staffers good working conditions that support their professional development. Implementing such a policy is not a requirement, but this example shows that firms in the sustainable tourism sector live and breathe their work, and pass on their love and passion for the planet and the stunning Chilean landscape to their patrons and guests.

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Additional Opportunities

Opportunities in the sustainable tourism sector are not limited to those in hospitality. Firms in energy, for example, will see demand increase for green energy products, particularly if Chile wants to catch up to Costa Rica and reduce its reliance on non-renewable resources.

Export businesses can capitalize on the growing number of tourists and import souvenirs and other green products, while logistics companies will be working to innovate using natural gases or electric technology, rather than fossil fuels to transport goods from one Chilean city to the next. Forming a company in Chile is the best way to pursue these opportunities.

In short, sustainable tourism is having a huge impact on Chilean tourism, and, as climate change continues to dominate the headlines and present new challenges, the country will be in a strong position to welcome guests from all four corners of the world and offer them a green and sustainable tourism experience that will be highly profitable.

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