Torres del Paine National Park

Tourism in Chile after the 2017 forest fires

Forest fires in Chile.
Between January and February 2017, wildfires destroyed large areas and small villages in central and southern Chile.  More than 500,000 hectares were burned. It is estimated that this series of fires is one of the largest disasters to have been faced, after the major earthquakes that shook the country in previous years, not only with national resources, but also with the help of a large number of private contributions and the solidarity of many friendly governments around the world. 
Outstanding was the participation of the firefighters of CONAF (National Forest Corporation); volunteers from the Cuerpo de Bomberos de Chile (Chilean Fire Brigade); fire brigades from many friendly countries such as Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, France, Portugal; dozens of helicopters and airplanes that participated in the hard fight against the fire, coming from the USA, Brazil, Russia, etc.; important monetary aid from the United Arab Emirates, China and other countries. Very emotional were the moments when the fire-fighting planes made their water drops, the people responded with tears and applause as a sign of gratitude. The Russian Ilyushin IL76 was affectionately nicknamed "Luchin" (a popular diminutive of the Spanish name Luis) because of the similarity of the two voices.

The Supertanker working in Chile.
SuperTanker in action, a contribution of Lucy Ana Aviles, a Chilean who lives in the USA. 
     Although many tourist centers were not directly affected, others were and it is estimated that the losses in the sector will be significant due to the fear of people traveling to these areas. In fact, tourism in the affected regions has dropped by 35%, as hotel bookings and many tours in the affected regions have been canceled. 

One of the alternatives for travelers in the O'Higgins region are the tours known as "La Ruta del Vino", which consist of tourist routes to typical and beautiful vineyards. In this area, the losses will be considerable, since in two vineyards alone several hectares dedicated to this type of tourism were burned. 

Vichuquen, on the shores of the lake of the same name, was another community severely affected. The fire displaced not only the nearly 15,000 people who keep their summer homes there, but also the 50,000 people expected for the season.

Ilyushin IL76, sent by the Russian Government to fight forest fires in Chile.
Ilyushin IL76 fighting the fire, a contribution of the Russian Government
For all this, and also in support to destinations that operate normally, SERNATUR (Chile's National Tourism Service) has said that the Government will allocate resources to promote tourism activities in these areas, making alliances with the local media and digital campaigns to demonstrate that destinations are operational, giving a sign of normality. 
For its part, the Ministry of Finance has announced a series of 14 measures to alleviate the economic situation of people living in the municipalities declared disaster areas. Sergio Galilea, Undersecretary of Public Works, called for the visit of tourist destinations affected by the forest fires in order to revive economic activity, expressing that "here are the best beaches in Chile, the best way to show solidarity with them is to come to Pichilemu, Matanzas, Navidad, Dichato, Santa Cruz and Vichuquen". It should also be noted that Central and Southern Chile are also rich in other important tourist centers not mentioned here because they were little or not affected, such as Termas and Nevados de Chillan, Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, Los Lagos Region including Puerto Varas, Frutillar, the tourist resort of Pucon and all its beautiful surroundings, etc., etc.