The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the world’s tourism industry, plunging it into a crisis of unprecedented proportions.
In line with the call to seek joint solutions made by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and other international agencies, Chile’s Tourism Undersecretariat and National Tourism Service (Sernatur) headed up a roundtable with the principal representatives of Chile’s tourism industry. The purpose of the roundtable is to establish a common roadmap for reactivating Chile’s tourism industry.
Tourism Undersecretary Mónica Zalaquett said, “tourism is an industry of importance to the economic and social development of every region in Chile. It is therefore fundamental, especially at times such as now, to strengthen public-private partnerships and generate all of the necessary synergies to create strategies that will allow us to get this sector back on its feet once this pandemic has passed.”
For her part, Sernatur national director Andrea Wolleter emphasized that “now, more than ever before, working together in a collaborative manner is of great importance in addressing the challenges posed by the current situation. This working group will therefore allow us not only to strengthen links with the sector but also create a valuable space for co-construction so that together we can get ready for reactivating the tourism industry, bringing out its full potential and contributing to the country’s economy.”
Referring to the current situation, the president of a trade association representing tourism companies - the Federación de Empresas de Turismo de Chile (Fedetur) - Ricardo Margulis, said, “the complex period that the tourism industry is experiencing needs to be jointly addressed. Now, more than ever, we need to reinforce public-private work in order to keep the industry on its feet and get ready for relaunch as soon as the conditions allow for it. Although we are in the middle of a severe crisis, we are also taking this as an opportunity for rethinking tourism with a view to the future; once the pandemic has passed, we will be able to give shape to a robust and sustainable industry. We are a driver of development in Chile, and so we must take care of this industry and create the necessary conditions for consolidating tourism in Chile. To this end, we have made a firm commitment to the Tourism Undersecretary and the authorities that they can count on our support during this process.”
Meanwhile, Máximo Picallo, the president of a trade association representing the gastronomy sector - Asociación Chilena de Gastronomía (Achiga) - highlighted, “we greatly value all of the work we have done together with the Tourism Undersecretariat. Today we are working on a health and hygiene protocol for the reopening of restaurants that will be as transversal as possible, so it will apply to all establishments from the smallest restaurant in the most remote location through to the largest international fast-food chain operating in Santiago. We believe that the Tourism Undersecretariat has played a very important role in being our nexus with the Economy Ministry. We have been listened to, our opinions have been taken into account and I believe that this is the most important aspect of joint public-private working.”
For his part, Andrés Fuenzalida, the president-director of a trade association representing hotels - Hoteleros de Chile A.G. - expressed his thanks for “the support given to us by the Undersecretariat and its commitment to help us overcome this profound crisis. Our hotels are ailing and in intensive care and we need urgent rescue measures for the medium and long term. Clearly, this difficult moment will be overcome by strengthening public-private partnerships. This is why meetings like these are so important, as different parts of the tourism industry can agree to working together.”
For the vice-president of a trade association of tourism companies - Asociación Chilena de Empresas de Turismo (ACHET) - Sergio Purcell, “this Roundtable of Trade Associations has taken on a great responsibility because we should act as one synchronized network when we receive the thumbs up to reactivate the sector. In this roundtable we aren’t just going to look at macro issues to achieve this goal; this is also a forum where the private sector can contribute information that will allow the various ministries to understand the dimensions of specific problems faced by this industry and seek possible solutions. The sector needs to define a return plan, the phases of which, like the economic survival of many companies, are a priority. And it needs to implement health and hygiene protocols ready for when tourism services start reopening.”
Lastly, Fernando Cruz, president of a trade association of tourism SMEs - Chilesertur - praised every approach made by the authorities, adding: “we recognize their interest in finding out the situation and real circumstances we are facing. Only if we have information from everyone will we be able to take actions and steps to address not only the current situation, but also to plan for the recovery of our activities.”
This roundtable with Chile's leading tourism trade associations will meet every 15 days. The next virtual meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 25.