Since 2015, Chile has been working towards becoming a premier destination for astrotourism.
As the world’s astronomy capital, especially in its northern region, Chile boasts optimal conditions for stargazing, drawing in enthusiasts from around the globe.
Chile hosts prominent radiotelescopes such as ALMA in the Atacama Desert and features a network of 21 scientific and 24 tourist observatories, stretching from the Antofagasta region to Bío Bío in the south.
The Mamalluca Observatory in Vicuña, Coquimbo region, was a trailblazer in inviting tourists, serving as an inspiration for other observatories to do the same.
Chile’s astrotourism initiative, driven by partnerships between public and private sectors, has attracted substantial investment. Notably, the government has earmarked $5 billion towards the construction of three megatelescopes.
President Gabriel Boric highlighted the significance of safeguarding clear skies for astronomical observations in Coquimbo, stressing its critical role in promoting astrotourism. Preserving against light pollution, especially in Coquimbo, is essential to maintain optimal observation conditions.
President Boric highlighted Chile’s distinctive advantage of 330 clear sky days annually, rivaling renowned locations like Hawaii and the Canary Islands. Chile presently houses 40% of the world’s astronomical observation capabilities.
The inaugural World Summit on Astrotourism held in Vicuña in 2023 was a significant milestone. During this summit, the “Call to Action Vicuña” document was signed, delineating strategies for global astrotourism advancement.
Cristián Saez, a tourism director, highlighted the necessity of a roadmap to enhance quality tourism experiences in astrotourism.
This includes initiatives like sky certification and the establishment of an Ibero-American Astrotourism Network. Astrotourism in Chile provides three-fold advantages: contributing to scientific knowledge, driving technological advancements, and generating employment opportunities within the tourism sector.
Despite challenges posed by the pandemic and economic fluctuations, the astrotourism industry presents entrepreneurial opportunities. Collaboration with prominent astrotourism destinations like Las Palmas and Andalucía in Spain is considered vital. Mamalluca Observatory has recorded approximately 50,000 visitors this year, with expectations of a rise during summer.
This emphasis on astrotourism underscores Chile’s dedication to leveraging its natural resources for sustainable scientific tourism, establishing itself as a significant contributor in this expanding field.