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Cochamo Valley threatened: The debate over ZOITs

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Cochamo Valley. Photo: Benjamín FuentesCochamo Valley. Photo: Benjamín Fuentes
 
 
By Evelyn Pfeiffer
Translation by Rebecca Neal
 
Chile’s Cochamo Valley is an area oft compared to Yosemite National Park of the United States because of its big granite walls and wild natural beauty attracting rock climbers and ecotourists in ever bigger numbers each year. But recently a controversy has stirred there as the mayor of the nearby town of Cochamo and a Chilean businessmen Roberto Hagemann – who has been pushing for building a large-scale hydroelectric development project in the area – moved to oppose renewing special tourism protections for the popular valley.
 
At issue in Cochamo Valley are ZOITs, an acronym in Spanish that stands for “Zonas de Interés Turístico,” which in English means “Areas of Special Tourist Interest.”
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Photography and sustainable social development: Britt Basel at the first National Forum for Women in Tourism

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Working for National Geographic in Tokyo, Japan. Britt is purifying herself in a symbolic way, washing her hands before entering a temple. Photo: Jeff KennelWorking for National Geographic in Tokyo, Japan. Britt is purifying herself in a symbolic way, washing her hands before entering a temple. Photo: Jeff Kennel
 
 
By Javiera Ide
Translation by George Chambers
 
With a view to creating the first Red de Mujeres en Turismo (Women in Tourism Network)  – a collaborative alliance seeking to share experiences, build references and reclaim the role of women in the sector – the forum will take place as a way of raising awareness of the work of the many women involved in and supporting the development of tourism in Chile.
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The Cochamo Valley Organization prepares measures to minimize the impact of tourism

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Viewpoint at Arcoiris trailViewpoint at Arcoiris trail
 
 
Press release, Nov. 22 - The Cochamó Valley Organization, which brings together tour operators, proprietors, muleteers, local NGOs and friends of the valley, are preparing for the third consecutive year measures to control access to the Cochamó Valley in Chile’s Lake Region in order to reduce environmental impacts and improve the visitor experience. The program, called “Reservas Valle de Cochamó,” establishes the maximum carrying capacity for campsites and the communication campaign “IF YOU WANT TO VISIT, YOU NEED RESERVATIONS” to raise awareness, which is the result of collaborative work between the community,  social organizations and public health services, tourism, the municipality and the local police.
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This week: Valdivia to host national conference on birdwatching in southern Chile

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Photo: Jorge Cardenas/FlickrPhoto: Jorge Cardenas/Flickr
 
 
By Zoe Baillargeon
 
Chile’s diverse landscapes and extensive system of national parks and protected areas are increasingly making it a world-class haven for viewing a wide range of intriguing and beautiful bird species, especially migratory birds. The Atacama desert, the Los Lagos region, and the far south of Patagonia are often cited as top places for birdwatching, but tourism industry professionals and ornithologists are eager to promote the many untapped opportunities for birding tourism in the Los Rios region and elsewhere in southern Chile at this week’s 2nd National Bird Watching in Southern Chilean Ecosystems Conference.
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Torres del Paine: Restoring the Base Torres trail

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 Torres del Paine National Park. Photo: Torres del Paine Legacy FundTorres del Paine National Park. Photo: Torres del Paine Legacy Fund

 
By Jenny Tolep
 
One of Chile’s most prized possessions, Torres del Paine National Park is a hotspot for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts that currently draws more than 260,000 tourists annually. But sadly, this beloved park is threatened to be loved to death. Increasing numbers of visitors, plus the annual pounding the terrain receives from strong winds and rain, have the park’s trails quickly deteriorating. Without immediate action, the erosion will become too severe and the trails will be permanently damaged. 
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Torres del Paine receives special funding for improvements

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Torres del Paine Legacy Fund volunteers hard at work on a new trail. Photo: Eric LeeTorres del Paine Legacy Fund volunteers hard at work on a new trail. Photo: Eric Lee
 
 
By Zoe Baillargeon
 
Trekkers on the Macizo Paine Circuit will soon be seeing some new upgrades to the trail.
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New rules on visits to Cochamo Valley

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Puelo Patagonia Due to high demand, anyone who wants to visit the Cochamó Valley during the high season will have to make reservations in advance using the website www.reservasvallecochamo.org. This same measure applies in other places with high tourist demand like Torres del Paine, and has been in force in Cochamó since January with the aim of improving tourist experiences while protecting the area’s natural resources.
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