Tourism market share: ChileÕs big surprise - Insights

Tourism market share: ChileÕs big surprise

Chile tourismIn the past decade, international tourism arrivals to Chile have soared 150% on average.

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

  1. Brazil (6.5 million)
  2. ÊChile (5.6 million)
  3. Argentina (5.5 million)
  4. Peru (3.7 million)
  5. Colombia (3.3 million)
  6. Uruguay (3.0 million)
  7. Ecuador (1.4 million)

Considering the strength of the tourism brands in ChileÕs vicinity, it is clear that travel promotion efforts are paying dividends. The makeup of ChileÕs market share, as in most countries, is dependent on regional neighbors. In ChileÕs 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, ChileÕs performance continues to be on the up. Until August, 4.3 million international travelers have visited Chile. ThatÕs an 18.3% increase in relation to record-breaking 2016. Although ChileÕs 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 its inbound portfolio. Chile is well known for its nature and adventure travel experiences. There is still a vast range of niche opportunities such as bird watching, 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 ChileÕs impressive rise to being one of South AmericaÕs most sought after destinations there are a couple of points still worth considering.

A sizeable amount of ChileÕs 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, USAÕs 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 itÕs 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 ChileÕs tourism boom. In 2017 alone, airplane seat availability from the USA to Chile increased by 15%. Turismo ChileÕs partner, LATAM Airlines increased itÕs 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 ChileÕs inbound figures please contact Turismo ChileÕs Markets Team.

In conclusion, ChileÕs 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 countryÕs tourism economy yearns for innovative partnerships that will help expand the current all-too-often traditional offering available. ChileÕs safe political climate ensures stability and risk-free holidays in a country plagued by nature and opportunity to for adventure.

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