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South America: The New Hotspot

October 9, 2011



South Ameria has been thrust back into the limelight because of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Machu Pichu.

SOUTH America is emerging as one of the hottest destinations for next year, with tour operators struggling to keep up with strong demand from Australians looking for new destinations, adventure and value.

The spotlight has been on Peru following the 100th anniversary of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu this year and improved flight connections are also making it easier than ever to get there.

LAN Airlines now offers daily flights to Santiago in Chile from Sydney or Auckland, while Qantas will begin flying from Sydney to Chile three times a week in March. LAN is also improving connections from Santiago to Lima in Peru and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and plans to improve its links to Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Contiki, best known for offering holidays to Europe for 18 to 35-year-olds, begins tours to South America next month in response to feedback in post-tour surveys and on social networking sites such as Facebook.The tours have proven so popular Contiki has sold out until April and is being forced to add extra departures.

“We have been in Asia for three years now and and it’s been a booming success that product model of small group touring and authentic local experiences using local transport is growing at the speed of light,” consumer marketing and brand manager Deanna Marrocco said. “It’s how people want to travel in these destinations.”

Trafalgar is also launching its more relaxed At Leisure program, which has been a big success in Europe, in South America for the first time next year. It has also begun offering Be My Guest dining experiences, inviting guests into the homes of locals to experience authentic homemade cuisine.

APT is also reintroducing tours to South America next year after withdrawing in 2009 because of the global financial crisis. Its restructured program includes 16 itineraries and it was forced to add three extra departures a few months after launching its brochure in April because of the strong response.

Ted Dziadkiewicz of Contours Travel, which specialises in trips to South America, said “voluntourism” was also becoming increasingly popular. Its new Heritage Trails of Sacred Valley of the Incas tour includes a visit to Australian Jane Gavel’s organisation Peru’s Challenge, which helps build schools and sustainable communities in Peru, and guests can choose to stay longer and work on the projects.

The cruise market is also soaring, with a growing number of specialist cruise itineraries including the Amazon River and the Chilean fjords. Peregrine has introduced four new cruise itineraries in the Galapagos Islands to help reduce the environmental impact on the fragile ecosystem, and is offering a new 10-day Highlights of Argentina tour.

Foodies are also increasingly discovering South America, with World Expeditions offering a new one-off culinary trip to Peru led by Crave Sydney Food Festival director Joanna Savill in November.


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