The event marks the culmination of the first phase of Chile’s Astro-tourism project. The activity was replicated with regional launches in other tourist destinations, including San Pedro de Atacama and La Serena.
“Chile is home to the best skies in the world,” is a phrase that we hear more and more frequently. It’s founded on the fact that 40% of the planet’s astronomical observation optic infrastructure is located within this territory, and it’s thought that this figure will rise to 70% within the next decade. It’s an exceptional characteristic that presents a unique opportunity to strengthen tourism and differentiate the country on an international level. With this vision in mind, the Undersecretary of Tourism, Javiera Montes, launched the “2016 – 2025 Astro-tourism Roadmap in Chile,” in the Planetarium of Santiago.
The document details a strategic plan to transform Chile into the most relevant astro-tourism destination in the world by 2025. The aim is to offer high quality, attractive, varied and sustainable astro-tourism experiences. The Undersecretary of Tourism highlighted that, “astro-tourism translates into a clear competitive and comparative advantage over the rest of the world as our country benefits from high quality skies, which is why the most important observatories in the world are located here”. She also added that, “as Undersecretary of Tourism, we want our country to grow into a destination recognized for astro-tourism excellence, admired and renowned for possessing a high quality, attractive, varied and sustainable offer, which is the principal objective of the national strategy and the tourism sector’s strategic programs”.
The Roadmap was elaborated by the project Astro-tourism Chile, its focus is orientate the development of activity across the country over the next ten years. The challenge lies in transforming astro-tourism into one of the emblematic experiences enjoyed by tourists who visit our country, in contributing to the diversification and sophistication of the national tourist offer, in increasing tourist value and expanding on the country’s international differentiation, as well as being recognized as a tourist destination for nature.
The Director of the National Tourism Service (Sernatur), Marcela Cabezas, explained that, “this government is supporting the diversification of the tourist offer, which is why through this initiative we want to convert our country into a leader destination for world astro-tourism, betting on our comparative advantage”.
The initiative has been financed by the Public Goods sector for the National Competitiveness of Corfo. This roadmap is already part of the roadmap for Corfo’s Sustainable Tourism and National Strategy Program (PENTS), which reaffirms its importance in the development of national tourism.
The roadmap and its initiatives
Close to 200 tourist, scientific, academic and government parties participated in the elaboration of this strategic plan. The final result proposes 60 initiatives, organized in seven lines of action: Visiting Experience, Human Capital, Infrastructure, Equipment and Resources, Sustainability, Promotion and Commercialization, Articulation of the sector and Emblematic Initiatives.
The president of the Chilean Society for Astronomy (Sochias), Ezequiel Treister, emphasized the opportunity that this presents. “Chile is the world capital for astronomy. For this reason, our country has a unique opportunity to also become the world capital for astro-tourism. This roadmap will be a fundamental tool in its development”, the scientist explained. The project’s Director, Pablo Álvarez, emphasized that, “the principal challenges are to improve the quality of the visiting experience offered by tourist businesses, municipal observatories and scientific observatories. Even though we already have to a number of cases that offer a good level, we need to make significant improvements if we wish to transform ourselves into global leaders within this sector”.
During the first two years of implementation, the roadmap (2016 – 2017) prioritizes diverse initiatives that aim to address the differences we have in the quality of the astro-tourism that offer at present. Once this has been achieved, the promotion and both the national and international commercialization of Chile’s astro-tourism can increase.
Between the prioritized initiatives, the following ideas have been considered: the implementation of a support line for private astro-tourism offers, the redesign of visiting experiences to the international scientific observatories and to the municipal observatories, the organization of a public, private and community working table to protect the skies from light pollution, the creation of a brand for Chile’s skies, the design and implementation of a training program that would be able to incorporate 100 high quality astro-tourism guides.
Between 2018 and 2025, the following initiatives are among those that will be executed: the development of astro-tourism experiences in wild protected areas; the development, promotion and commercialization of the Chilean astro-tourism offer, related to the full eclipses of the sun scheduled in 2019, 2020 and 2021; the generation of cultural astronomy products by local communities and/or tourist entrepreneurs from original villages; the organization of a social awareness campaign relating to the protection of dark skies and light pollution; the management and achievement of new international dark skies certifications; and the organization of an annual astronomy festival in Chile and a World Astro-tourism Summit.
Download here the roadmap of the Astro tourism in Chile.