In contact with important actors in the tourism industry and to our question on the importance of international tourism institutions, do you consider that institutions such as UNWTO-OMT or WTTC, which are two of the most important institutions in the world, have real relevance in the development of tourism, or are they simply spaces to develop relations and generate meetings?
The roles of UNWTO-OMT, as an intergovernmental institution and related to the United Nations system, should be as outlined above, and not purely to develop relationships and meetings, as is often the case.
The WTTC, on the other hand, is a trade union, inter-business body, which cannot be asked to dictate how tourism should be developed. If it defines certain ethical, social responsibility and sustainability guidelines for companies, as in fact it does, that is fine and is to be congratulated. But companies cannot be entrusted with tasks that belong to public bodies, which are the ones that should look after the general interest of nations and with a long-term vision.
As a former director of the Chilean Federation of Tourism Companies, do you think that the national authorities understand the reality of the tourism industry?
Unfortunately, I believe that the potential of tourism in Chile is still not fully understood, especially as an engine for local development in isolated communities, close to exceptional natural attractions such as those found throughout Chile. Some progress has been made in valuing its economic dimension, but much less as a sector that can add value to cultural and natural assets, and which requires state support and clear regulations for its proper development.
How is the Undersecretariat of Tourism collaborating with the private sector to promote tourism?
Without being involved, directly or indirectly, in either the Undersecretariat or the private sector, I have the impression from media reports that there are frequent contacts between the two sectors, but how are these contacts reflected in concrete joint actions and results that reflect a concerted development of tourism?
After the impact and subsequent return to "normality", do you consider that the pandemic has introduced relevant changes in the behaviour of tourists and travellers, or has everything remained relatively unchanged?
It is still premature to make a judgement on this. In these 12 to 15 months of "post-pandemic", there has been a sometimes compelling desire to "make up for lost time" (also known as "revenge tourism"). In the medium term, it is likely that more stringent health requirements by tourists will take hold in the destinations they visit and in hotel and catering establishments. As a corollary, it is also likely that tourists, or a significant percentage of them, will be willing to pay more to ensure that the destination and its hotels and restaurants are reliable in terms of hygiene and food safety.
Another change that can be observed, but which is not necessarily a product of the pandemic, is the search for less saturated destinations, whether in rural or mountainous areas, in small towns that are still alien to mass tourism but which have attractions and singularities, and on islands and beaches off the beaten track.