Volume XX, Number 41
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
TURISMO CHILE ISSUES UPDATE ON EARTHQUAKE DAMAGE. Turismo Chile, the country’s tourism promotion organization, has issued a statement to the tourism industry addressing the effect of the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile in the earning morning hours last Saturday. According to the report, the cities closest to the epicenter of the quake–including Concepcion, Talcahuano and Temuco, and a number of small towns along Chile’s central coast–were most affected by the quake. Authorities are still working on assessing the full damage. Basic essential services including water, electricity and telecommunications are gradually being restored.
The southern parts of the Lakes and Volcanoes region was not affected by the quake. Operations in popular tourist towns including Pucon, Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt are reported to be normal. In Santiago and Chile’s Central Region, the Santiago airport suffered structural damage to the passenger terminal, however no damage was reported to the runways and the airport is expected to reopen later this week. The desert region in the north of Chile and the Patagonia region in the far south were not affected by the quake and have not reported any damage. Easter Island, which lies 2,300 miles off the coast of mainland Chile, a 5.5-hour flight from Santiago, was not affected by the quake. Initial tsunami warnings have been lifted and all operations are normal.
Chile’s tourism infrastructure has, overall, fared well, reporting little damage, officials said. "We look forward to continuing to welcome travelers and making every effort to making them feel safe and secure,” said Pablo Moll, executive director of Turismo Chile. (www.TravelAgentCentral.com, 3/1; wwwTravelPulse.com; www.TravelWeekly.com, 3/1)
*LAN Airlines is set to resume restricted domestic and international flight operations at the Santiago airport today. The airline said it is helping to set up a temporary tent facility at the Santiago terminal for passengers. Through Thursday of this week, LAN said the priority will be the transfer to and from Santiago of those passengers who have been affected by flight cancellations. Starting on Friday of this week, operations are expected to begin getting back to normal. LAN is waiving change fees until March 30 for passengers who have been unable to fly due to the earthquake. (www.TravelPulse.com)
–Princess Cruises’ Star Princess, set to sail from the port of Valparaiso in Chile on Wednesday, one day later than scheduled, will act as a floating hotel for stranded passengers if the nearby Santiago airport does not fully reopen today. Originally, the Star Princess was due to sail from Valparaiso today, but the line now says the earliest the ship will depart is 6 p.m. Wednesday. Although Santiago is about 90 minutes from the port, it is a major attraction for passengers who visit, and it provides the nearest air-travel hub for cruise passengers. Two other cruise lines are scheduled to have ships in the area within the next two weeks. Oceania Cruises’ Insignia is due to call on Sunday, and Silversea’s Silver Spirit is slated to arrive on Monday. At the moment, representatives of both lines say they do not anticipate any changes to itineraries. (www.CruiseCritic.com, 3/1; www.TravelWeekly.com, 3/1)