MIAMI (March 23, 2010) — The Ministry of Public Works has announced a US$400 million investment in passenger and cargo port infrastructure from 2010 through 2013. That complements private investments in infrastructure and equipment made by several ports in 2008 that totaled US$340 million.

Some of the projects included in this investment plan consist of the expansion of the Port of Valparaíso, development of a new pier at Port Williams, expansion of the Port of Punta Arenas and enhancement of passenger facilities at the Castro Port in Chiloe Island.

“Chile has great opportunities for the development of tourism, especially in the cruise industry,” said Teodoro Wigodoski, president of the Southern Cone Port Corporation. “It is required to continue investing in some port facilities, so cruise ships can dock directly at the port, eliminating the need to use tenders”.

“These projects will help us meet the standards of the market by providing additional space to dock alongside in some of the most frequented ports and by improving cruise terminal facilities to offer a more efficient and prompt service to cruise travelers,” he said.

The Southern Cone Port Corporation represents the main cruise ports of the country and companies related to the industry, including Empresa Portuaria Puerto Montt; Empresa Portuaria Austral; Empresa Portuaria Arica; Empresa Portuaria Valparaíso and Valparaíso Passenger Terminal; Empresa Portuaria Talcahuano; Empresa Portuaria Chacabuco y Empresa Portuaria Iquique.

The planned expansion of Valparaíso’s cruise terminal, the country’s main cruise port located less than 90 minutes away from Santiago, will considerably increase its cruise ship capacity. The US$1.21 million project is expected to start in 2011 and be completed for the 2013 cruise season. This expansion represents the third stage of development for the Valparaíso terminal, which started in 2001 with the creation of a temporary terminal, followed by a permanent terminal in 2003.

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After the planned projects are completed, cruise ships will be able to dock alongside at Punta Arenas and Port Williams, where currently tendering is required. The
expansion of the Punta Arenas port is still in the proposal and research stage, at an estimated US$1.1 million investment, while the development of a new pier at Port Williams is expected to be completed for the 2011-12 cruise season.

Construction at the port of Chiloe Island will focus on improving passenger facilities by adding a roofed area to receive cruise passengers, a currency exchange office and souvenir shops, among other improvements, though cruise ships will still have to tender passengers. The total investment in that project is approximately US$5 million.

These investments are part of a 10-year plan to improve port facilities around the country. Additional projects planned through 2020 include enhancement of passenger facilities at the Port of Coquimbo, improvement of Port Natales’ infrastructure and improvement of cruise passenger facilities at the Port of Arica. The ports of Puerto Montt and Chacabuco are constantly upgrading facilities and services to meet the needs of cruise lines, tour operators and passengers.

Commercial port facilities also are included in the government’s 10-year port redevelopment plan. The overall objective is to increase Chile’s competitiveness in international commerce and coastal tourism, and improve the mainland’s connectivity to the islands by combining public-private efforts to provide better port infrastructure.

By 2020 the projects aim to increase the capacity of cargo transfer and commerce, doubling it to 200 billion tons from its current 100 billion tons. The fishing and aquaculture sectors also will be helped by these investments, which will create the port, maritime and land infrastructure to meet international standards.

Connectivity around the country also is an important objective, and the government plans to link 45 percent of the national territory — from the Lakes region to Magellan and Chilean Antarctica — by providing and constructing terminals, updating ferries and optimizing collaboration between public and private sectors.

Chile Tourism
Through continuous growth over 20 years, tourism has become Chile’s fourth most important economic activity, drawing more than 2 million international visitors annually. Chile was named one of the world’s best travel destinations by “Travel + Leisure” and “Condé Nast Traveler.” The country has a unique geography that features a rich biodiversity including the world’s most arid desert, virgin forests and thousand-year-old glaciers in Patagonia and Easter Island, offering an amazing variety of attractions and tourist activities. Currently, Chile has 14 passenger ports and is doing important investments to improve services in Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Easter Island, Talcahuano, Corral, Puerto Montt, Ancud, Castro, Puerto Chacabuco, Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas.