Chile is seeking to reposition itself in the eyes of the Australian traveller as it homes in on the “trendy” flashpacker, in addition to its traditional 50 plus market.
In Sydney for Turismo Chile’s first solo roadshow event, Asia Pacific market manager Pablo Retumal confirmed the destination has its sights firmly set on the Australian market, doubling its local marketing budget as it seeks to capitalise on improved air access and a growing trend for increasingly experiential holidays.
There are now nine weekly flights from Australia to Santiago with visitor numbers also significantly on the rise, up to 45,000 per year from 37,000 just two years ago and a rise of 19% already seen in the first five months of this year.
But, while current efforts which largely target the well-off 50 plus market seem to be delivering rewards, Chile is looking to broaden its demographic.
“As a tourism board we obviously need to continue encouraging that – it’s a very good market. But we also need to start becoming more trendy as a travel destination and trendiness obviously happens in a younger age category,” Retumal told Travel Today.
The flashpacker market in search of something different will therefore be an important target for its promotional efforts going forward, Retumal revealed.
“We’re talking about the guy who is remembering the days of backpacking around Asia and wantas to do a similar trip, but now he has a credit card and can pamper himself along the way,” he said.
“That’s the kind of market that we want to open up again and we think we’re a perfect destination for that.”
Retumal highlighted the destination’s main appeal as its culture, food, wine and its range of contrasting landscapes from the extremes of the Atacama desert to those of Patagonia. But it has work to do to position any of its attractions as a South American icon in the eyes of the Australian consumer.
“When people think of Chile, they probably have the wrong image in their head,” he admitted.
“We can’t expect people to go to South America now and not want to see Machu Picchu, or Rio or Buenos Aires, but what we’re saying is that on the way to all of those highlights, you have to go through Chile, so get off that plane and you’re going to find something amazing,” he said.
Little by little, he is optimistic that those that sample what Chile has to offer will return, perhaps for a standalone holiday.
The growing trend for experience-based holidays as opposed to traditional flop and drops is also working in the destination’s favour, he continued.
“In the 80s holiday, wasn’t about culture it was about going to a beach, sitting there and getting a whole bunch of pina coladas served all inclusive,” he said.
People are now searching for holidays with the “wow factor” instead, making now the ideal time for Chile to promote its lesser known attractions and its offerings in adventure and wine tourism – both considered a good fit for the Australian market.