By Louise Ho
The Chilean Export Promotion Bureau (ProChile) in Shanghai organized its first-ever event in the city on Tuesday to promote tourism and products of Chile. Over 30 representatives from the media, travel agencies and industries were introduced to the rich ethnicity, natural wonders and culinary experience that Chile offers.
“Although Chile is far away from China, the two countries have a close relationship and interaction. China is the biggest and most trustworthy partner of Chile,” said Cesar Suarez, Trade Commissioner of Chile in Shanghai.
“My understanding from my three years of staying in Shanghai is Chinese tourists look for adventure and an exotic experience when they travel, and Chile is the ideal country,” he said. “We want to bring you the authentic Chile experience.”
On the opposite side of the world to China, Chile is the longest country in the world between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. Its diverse geography sees deserts in the north, a populated urban capital (Santiago) in the center, forests and volcanoes in the south, and the Antarctic territory and the mysterious Easter Island.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Chile as part of his visit to Latin America from November 17 to 23. He will also visit Ecuador and Peru, and attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
China and Chile have built a solid relationship over the decades. Chile was the first country in South America to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1970. Chile was also the first country in South America to sign a free trade agreement with China.
Chinese tourists can travel to Chile visa-free if they have a US or Canada visa that is valid for more than six months, and the visa fee is free, said Suarez.
“Chinese tourists to Chile are expected to increase 50 percent this year. We are very confident that more and more Chinese tourists are going to visit Chile,” he said.
At the Shanghai event guests had a taste of “pisco sour,” a cocktail made from pisco brandy, lemon juice and sugar. “Pisco is the national drink of Chile, like tequila for Mexico and rum for Central America,” Rosemarie Fuchs, journalist and wife of Suarez, told the Global Times.
“Chileans like to have a pisco sour at family and friends gathering and when they want to relax,” she said. “Piscola,” which is a cocktail made of pisco and with coke, is also a popular drink in Chile, she said.
Wu Yuanfeng, president of the Chile national exhibition and trading center at the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which exhibits high-quality products from Chile, shared his experience visiting alpacas in the desert area in northern Chile.
Alpacas are ruminants that are domesticated by the indigenous people of the highlands of Peru and Chile. There are two races of alpacas: the suri and the huacaya.
“It’s very hard to get close to alpacas because they run very fast. If you want to take photos of them you have to use a long camera lens,” he said.
Going to Chile has become easier for Chinese tourists in recent years. Jennifer Shao, Sales Manager – Eastern China of LATAM Airlines Group, Latin America’s leading airline group headquartered in Santiago, said the airline operates flights to 16 destinations in Chile.
Chinese travelers can take flights operated by airline alliance oneworld, in which LATAM is a member, as well as by Air China and Lufthansa, to major cities in Europe, US and Oceania, then transfer to South America with LATAM flights. LATAM has 12 flights a week to and from Santiago and Los Angeles, Shao told the Global Times.
The promotional event took place at NAPA Wine Bar & Kitchen, which has Francisco Araya, the only Chilean chef in the world with two Michelin stars, at the helm of the kitchen.
Why Chile: 10 reasons
1. Nature: 20 percent of Chile is protected territory, including national parks and nature reserves
2. Adventure tourism: the best destination in South America
3. Atacama: the driest desert in the world, and it flowers
4. The Patagonia: the Andes mountains, deserts and grasslands
5. The Antarctica: an experience of a lifetime to see the Antarctic
6. Easter Island: one of the most mysterious cultures, Rapa Nui, represented by 887 Moai stone statues
7. Surfing: world-class waves off the north and south coasts
8. Chileans: friendly, warm and welcoming
9. Stargazing: the best place in the Southern Hemisphere, over 300 clear night skies a year
10. Urban cities: explore the cosmopolitan to bohemian vibe in Chilean cities