Chile's Garden City

Puerto Williams is internationally recognized as "Best Tourism Village"

Source: Dialogo Sur
December 4, 2021

Puerto Williams, Best Tourism Village
Image: Estacion Sur Comunicaciones
During the twenty-fourth meeting of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly held in Madrid on December 2, 2021, the southern town of Puerto Williams, (Cape Horn Commune in Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica Region), was recognized as an example of a rural tourism destination with cultural and natural values. It is worth mentioning that we are talking about the most southerly city in the world.

Puerto Williams, along with the town of Pica in the Tarapaca Region, received the "Best Tourism Villages" certification from UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili, which also highlights rural and community products, values and lifestyles, thus recognizing that they promote tourism as one of the main drivers of development, committed to sustainability and the well-being of their communities. A total of 44 villages from 32 countries around the world received the 2021 award.

The nomination was led by Sernatur (National Tourism Service) Magallanes, and after being announced to the members of the ZOIT Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn Tourist Area), required the commitment of the Cabo de Hornos City Council and several local and regional organizations, which provided the necessary information to apply and present the candidacy according to the required guidelines.

Cape Horn's mayor, Patricio Fernandez, expressed his gratitude for this recognition commenting that "it is very important because it reflects our cultural diversity and the actions that various public and private organizations, individuals and local communities have taken to promote sustainable tourism with local identity in harmony with other traditional activities in the commune. This will allow us to re-promote our destination in a more committed way and will be one of the main pillars to start a strategic work to consolidate Puerto Williams as a great area of tourist interest, strengthening rural enterprises and repositioning the city and its attractions in the minds of travelers, after the global health crisis."

For her part, the Regional Director of Sernatur, Ximena Castro, said "we are tremendously proud of this achievement for Puerto Williams, which was possible thanks to the commitment of the Cabo de Hornos Municipality and the work of the Sernatur Magallanes team. With this distinction, Puerto Williams is recognized as an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with its cultural and natural attractions in one of the most impressive settings on the planet."

"This important recognition for Puerto Williams is a real pride for our tourist destination and I would like to especially appreciate the commitment and permanent work of the local community, the municipality and Sernatur, who have made possible to show the value of Puerto Williams worldwide as one of the best tourist places in the world, in a context where the reactivation of tourism in Cabo de Hornos is an important priority. We will continue working to make visible and promote this unique and wonderful destination of our Chilean Patagonia and we invite the whole community to be part of this challenge."

Among the reasons highlighted by the UNWTO for the recognition was the historical importance of Puerto Williams for Chile and the world, due to the presence of the Yagan people, the southernmost indigenous community on the planet, who currently resides here. In addition, the zone is part of an area declared a Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005, representing a milestone for the conservation of biodiversity worldwide and covering the entire southern tip of Chile. Also noteworthy are the Heritage Routes with the southernmost trekking routes on the planet, such as the Dientes de Navarino Trekking and the Omora Ethnobotanical Park, a 1,000-hectare private protected area that preserves the Robalo River basin, the community's main water source, among other heritage values.

The "Best Tourism Villages" program seeks to promote the role of tourism in valuing and safeguarding rural villages and their associated landscapes, knowledge systems, biological and cultural diversity, local values and activities. The towns recognized as "Best Tourism Villages" will gain international visibility and recognition as "outstanding examples of rural tourism destinations that preserve and promote their associated landscapes, knowledge systems, biological and cultural diversity."