As a follow on from yesterday's rant, I wanted to post about from where Valparaiso could take some advice.
Having lived and worked in Argentina, it's not often you'll hear me praising a government initiative. However, when it comes to tourism, Argentina and Buenos Aires in particular are brilliant examples of what can be done with just a little effort.
Before the 01/02 economic crisis in Argentina, pretty much no one visited that country. The 1-1 Dollar-Peso scared most people off. When the economy collapsed, Argentina became an overnight bargain and started to receive large quantities of visitors. The national and Buenos Aires City governments realised they were onto something and have, over the past few years, done an incredible job of marketing the country as one of the best tourist destinations in the world and Buenos Aires as one of the coolest cities.
On top of the world wide advertising campaigns and ability to charm foreign travel writers, the best example of how the government has actively helped Buenos Aires become such a great destination is the city website. This is probably the best government sponsored city guide anywhere in the world. Go have a browse-there's so much information there, from walking tours, restaurant and hotel listings, podcasts, a blog, maps, essential information and more. A brilliant resource for anyone thinking of visiting BA or already there.
Chile needs to come down off its reciprocity high horse and start investing in making Chile as popular a destination as Argentina. I've met so many travellers in Argentina who won't come to Chile because of the tax, and it's unlikely the majority of them will be back in this neck of the woods anytime soon. Chile needs to be attracting the tourists who are already in the Southern Cone and also visitors who will be coming directly to Chile.
Valparaiso needs a website like Buenos Aires'. It's an investment that will repay itself many times over. At the moment, this blog is pretty much the only English language site promoting the city. And that's not right.
Finally, the Valpo tourism director told us that the city is actually going to put an information booth about the city in Buenos Aires. Brilliant!, I thought. Except that the booth is going to be put somewhere down in Puerto Madero. Where no one is going to notice it.
To me, the obvious area in which to be promoting Valparaiso is the area of Buenos Aires that most resembles the kind of experience you might expect here: Namely, Palermo Viejo/Soho/Hollywood. This part of BA has boutique hotels, good restaurants, good bars and good shopping. Valpo has the first three and will almost certainly have the last one in the near future. The people who stay, shop, eat and drink in Palermo, foreigners and Argentines alike, are the same people who would almost certainly enjoy Valparaiso. By putting the info point in Puerto Madero, Valpo is only going to attract tourists who might well have the city on their itinerary anyway and possibly a couple of wealthy Argentines.
I'll be happy next week, I promise :)