Market Share: Chile’s Big Surprise

There is no doubt that Chile, as of late, has had a positive performance in relation to tourism arrivals. In the past decade international tourism arrivals have soared to average a 150% increase.


In 2016, Chile’s regional market share was impressive. A ranking of total arrivals in the South America ranks Chile in second place overall:


  • Brazil (6.5 million)
  • Chile (5.6 million)
  • Argentina (5.5 million)
  • Peru (3.7 million)
  • Colombia (3.3 million)
  • Uruguay (3.0 million)
  • Ecuador (1.4 million)


Considering the strength of the tourism brands in Chile’s vicinity, it is clear that travel promotion efforts are paying dividends. The makeup of Chile’s market share, as in most countries, is dependent on regional neighbors. In Chile’s case that would be Argentina and Brazil. Approximate figures will show that 45% and 10% of Argentine and Brazilian tourists (respectively) constitute the total of foreign visits to the country.


In 2017, Chile’s performance continues to be on the up. Until August, 4.3 million international travelers have visited Chile. That’s an 18.3% increase in relation to record-breaking 2016. Although Chile’s dependency on economies like Brazil and Argentina continues,  there is an opportunity for long-haul markets to grab more market share while Chile attempts to diversify it’s inbound portfolio. Chile is well known for its nature and adventure travel experiences. There is still a vast range of niche opportunities such as birdwatching, fly fishing, family travel, honeymoons, skiing, incentive, indigenous, food and wine tourism.


A 2016 market share break up, will show that arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Peru, USA and Colombia compose 72% of all the arrivals to the country. In traditionally more incipient markets for Chile, growth is rampant. For example, Chinese visitor numbers doubled (+49.3%) in the past year. France, Australia and the UK boast increments in their 2016 inbound figures of +10.2%, +10.8 % and +10.9% respectively.


A glance at foreign credit card expenditure reveals that after having gone through a stable period in 2013 and 2014, tourists have lately spent more in Chile. Pegged at around USD 1,5 billion in 2013 and 2014, expenditure rose substantially in 2015 and again in 2016.


Foreign credit card spend / year in billions of USD:


2016: 2,4

2015: 2,0

2014: 1,5

2013: 1,5


(source: Transbank. Please also note that calculations are based on Chilean CLF / US Oct. 2017 exchange rate which equals 42,7 USD for CLP 1.)


Despite Chile’s impressive rise to being one of South America’s most sought after destinations there are a couple of points still worth considering.


A sizeable amount of Chile’s growth is based on Brazil and Argentina. Traditionally, an important trend for both of the latter was retail shopping. Today credit card expenditure analysis reveals that these markets are spending more on tourism activity in Chile. Private and public promotional efforts are now geared towards creating a shift in expenditure habits to encourage consuming more tourism services.


Progress is being made in traditionally hard-to-penetrate markets like the USA. Between 2015 and 2016, USA’s overall outbound figure to South America dropped -5%. Despite less US citizens traveling to South America, Chile was able to attract 12% more tourists from that market in 2016.


In 2013, arrivals to Chile from the USA slumped -2,7% in relation to 2012. Promotional efforts and strategic partnerships with the private sector helped Chile raise it’s numbers between 2013 and 2016 on average 7.3%.

2013:  -2.7%

2014:  +5%

2015:  +15%

2016: +12%

Airlines have played an important part in Chile’s tourism boom. In 2017 alone airplane seat availability from the USA to Chile increased by 15%. Turismo Chile’s partner, LATAM Airlines increased it’s capacity from the USA to Chile by 6%. For the past five years events such as Discover Chile, organized by Turismo Chile and LATAM, have helped bolster B2B ties between the US and Chilean travel industry. For more market information and analysis about Chile’s inbound figures please contact Turismo Chile’s Markets Team.


In conclusion, Chile’s tourism success is helping the country flourish into the trendiest destination in South America. Today, and as far as tourism is concerned, Chile is growing at unprecedented levels. The Undersecretary of Tourism estimates that Chile will reach the 6,7 million tourism visits mark by the end of 2017. With the large variety of cultural and geographic contrasts Chile has it is clear that there is still plenty of untapped tourism potential left in the country. For the international tourism industry opportunity comes in the form of development of new products.


The country’s tourism economy yearns for innovative partnerships that will help expand the current all-too-often traditional offering available. Chile’s safe political climate ensures stability and risk-free holidays in a country plagued by nature and opportunity to for adventure. Turismo Chile invites tourism professionals seeking local partners and innovative products to click here and witness the best showcase of Chilean tourism services available.



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