AW_Galapagos IslandsSouth America’s tourism industry has seen quick gains thanks to increased air access and a wave of new infrastructure, but operators are confident of further improvements as awareness of the destination continues.

Visitor numbers have increased across the board, with tourism in Chile increasing from 2.8 million in 2010 to 3.6 million in 2015, and Peru recently welcoming 2.8 million tourists. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation also expects inbound tourism arrivals to reach 40 million by 2020, up from 27.4 million in 2013.

Contours Travel director Ted Dziadkiewicz told travelBulletin that awareness was constantly on the rise as infrastructure improves and more land product comes to the foreground.

Australians are also becoming more savvy about the range of product that is now available – such as hotels and cruise holidays – following more concerted marketing efforts from wholesalers, Dziadkiewicz added.

“Tourism is evolving in South America as people are discovering that there are incredible hotels and attractions. That is evident by the fact that airlines like LAN and Qantas are adding more capacity, and Air New Zealand is launching its direct service to Buenos Aires in December,” he said.

However, Dziadkiewicz claimed that awareness was still lagging among the trade, noting that many consultants were unaware that there are 13 different countries spread across the continent.

He remained confident that knowledge gaps would narrow as the destination garners more interest from consumers, and as agents seek out more information.

“South America is emerging as a destination and we are seeing more and more travellers combine travel to central America such as Mexico and Guatamala,” he said, adding that Peru remained the most popular country among Australians followed by Chile, Colombia, Cuba and Easter Island.

Contours Travel sees particular interest in 30-40 day tours in South America across three to six countries. Travel to the Salt Plains of Bolivia has also seen ongoing interest along with cruising in the Amazon and travel to the Atacama desert.

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