In this context, Travel2latam spoke with Cristóbal Benítez, National Director of Tourism of Chile.
What is the expectation, although we are already on the second day, what meaning does being at a fair like this have for you?
Well, for us it is very strategic, two months ago we launched the new international marketing plan for Chile, where within the six markets that are priority, the 360 markets, there are four countries that are from Europe; UK, Spain, France, Germany, therefore being at a fair like WTM is key for us, especially because we are focused on the first stage of the plan, on working to recover the volume of trips that we had prior to the pandemic, For that we are working hard to recover the commercial channel. A B2B fair like this allows us to recover the channel, that is why we also try to come with many operators, come with many products that they want to sell and reposition ourselves in the commercial channel. That is why we have 22 product exhibitors plus 2 destinations here at the fair today, that is, we almost double the number of exhibitors we had last year. We are interested in that, showing the diversity of products and destinations that we have in Chile, attracting them directly so that we can match with the broadcast operators.
Well, this is an event that comes at the end of the season, it is part of a strategy that they have been promoting in different regions, in different countries. some of them strategic like the ones you mentioned. How have you experienced this season in general terms? What is your opinion of what has happened?
Well, we have quite interesting figures. I was just doing the analysis a while ago, comparing this year's growth with last year and in the European market we have grown 140%, that is super significant and although we still need to reach the previous pandemic figures because we are Approximately still at 31% in Europe below the numbers we had prior to the pandemic, at this rate we are on the right track and we hope to recover those figures during the first half of the year and next year.
At this event there are executives from very important airlines both from Europe and from other latitudes such as the East, such as the Middle East. I would like to know if they have held meetings to enhance the country's connectivity, which is so important for our activity.
In our marketing plan, in the first two years, the keys to recovering volume are: on the one hand, trade and on the other hand, the issue of connectivity. For that we have had different meetings. We have already had two meetings with LATAM. Today we have a meeting with British, which also has direct flights to Chile to see what collaboration spaces we have to carry out cooperative campaigns, or see possibilities of increasing flight frequencies. And we also hope to have meetings with some other airline when we are inviting them to return, for example, Emirates, which was working in Chile, and is no longer there, to see what possibilities we have of regulating them again, because a big part of being able to recover the European market is to have more seats available and the only way to continue growing is with greater flight frequency and greater connectivity.
For 2024, what is the review in general terms? How do you handle the current situation?
Well, we have good expectations for what 2024 will be like, we are preparing some strategic alliance, both with operators and with airlines, to continue working in the European market, which interests us and is very strategic for us. We also want to do some actions that are smaller but that are also more efficient to continue strengthening the relationship with the commercial channel through road shops, workshops, which allow us a much more direct approach not only to the fairs but also more specific actions. , smaller but also more efficient and we hope that we will recover the level of visits we had from the European market to Chile during the next year.