Chile highlights importance of cruise, new facilities in southern ports

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The developments were shared at Seatrade Global Cruiseled by the recently appointed Chilean Undersecretary for Tourism, Verónica Kunze Neubauer.

“Cruises are very important to us” because passengers “spend a lot of money compared to other types of tourism, so it’s a huge impact,” Kunze said, generating revenue for restaurants, tour operators, wineries and other small businesses. Some 70-80% of cruise passengers spend at least one hotel night in Chile, usually in Santiago.

Additionally, a “high percentage” of cruise passengers return as transient visitors within two to three years, according to Kunze, which benefits destinations beyond ports.

Traditional expeditions and cruises are important, she added.

Puerto Williams, as previously reported, will host Silversea’s three-ship Antarctic program in the 2022/23 season, with Conrad Combrink, SVP Expeditions, Turnaround Operations and Destination Management, calling the port a “magnificent gateway “.

Growth potential

“We see huge potential to provide services to vessels visiting Antarctica and the possibility of increasing calls year on year,” said Rodrigo Pommiez Aravena, managing director of Empresa Portuaria Austral (Epaustral), which takes supports cruise operations in Punta Arenas, Puerto Williams and Puerto Natales. .

Silversea is redeploying its ships from Ushuaia, Argentina, but Pommiez sees the two countries’ ports as complementary, saying, “We need to work together to improve cruise services for Antarctica.”

Puerto Williams Access Bridge and Terminal

In Puerto Williams, where Epaustral provides service to cruise liners using navy facilities, docking will be facilitated via a new 150 meter double-lane access bridge. This has a covered pedestrian walkway on one side and a service/supply vehicle lane on the other. A 12 meter platform for tender landings will be useful when several vessels are in port. This $35 million project is to be completed by March 2023.

Work in a second stage, from 2023 to 2025, includes a multi-purpose terminal of 1,590 square meters, an investment of 21 million dollars. The facilities will accommodate a vessel up to 240 meters and draft of 8.5 meters or two ships of 120 meters. The project will be executed by the Department of Port Works of the Ministry of Public Works.

Puerto Williams normally has about 14 or 15 cruise calls per season. Silversea’s activity will double, Pommiez said, adding that with the new terminal, the port can again double its cruise capacity, to around 60 ports of call.

Extended mooring in Punta Arenas

At larger and busier Punta Arenas, where Terminal A. Prat’s berth was lengthened to 250 meters in 2016-17, a second stage of upgrades this season will add a third dolphin, a new berth and fenders to increase the capacity of the pier for ships up to 300 meters with a draft of 8.25 meters. Investments total $17 million.

And a project to expand the Guardián Brito terminal for the 2022/23 season has two options: the mooring of bollards or buoys, to be determined, in an investment of around $300,000 to $400,000.

Punta Arenas made 90 cruise calls during the 2021/22 season, 60 of them to Antarctica. Before the pandemic, he handled more than 150 calls. Pommeiez hopes the 2022/23 season will return to around 80-85% of normal.

Puerto Natales, located in the Señoret Channel and at the entrance to Torres del Paine National Park, welcomes smaller vessels, up to 150 meters, and typically has 10-12 cruise stops per season.

To Seatrade Global Cruise, Chilean officials met with cruise passengers and cohorts from Argentina and Uruguay. The countries aim to work together to develop cruising.

Cruise passengers “spend a lot of money compared to other types of tourism,” Verónica Kunze Neubauer said.

Safe destination with open tourist attractions

Kunze’s key message to cruise lines was that Chile is a safe destination with nearly 94% of the eligible population vaccinated against COVID-19, and that tourist attractions, from parks and vineyards to restaurants and shops, are open. .

One of his first priorities was to work with public health officials to facilitate more flexible policies for visitors. Currently, vaccination is mandatory to sail with a negative PCR test taken within 24 hours before arrival at the first port. Kunze said she will keep the lines informed of any changes for next season when, hopefully, pandemic protocols won’t need to be as strict.

Chile was voted “best adventure destination”, making it the zeitgeist. “People are looking for open spaces, national parks, natural attractions,” Kunze said.

Marketing and promotion are essential to publicize the attractions of Chile. Kunze’s first trip abroad was to showcase the country at the World Travel Market Latin America in Brazil in early April, followed by Seatrade Global Cruise in Miami last week.

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