Futaleufú-Palena Watershed Declared Zone of Touristic Interest
Santiago, December 26, 2016. During a meeting this week, Chile’s Committee of Ministers for Tourism voted to approve the Futaleufú-Palena ZOIT. The decision followed a joint two-year effort by a team composed of the Tourism Departments of the Municipalities of Futaleufú and Palena and the Managing Entity, Fundación Futaleufú Riverkeeper. Riverkeeper presented the proposal in November to the Regional Ministerial Secretariat of Economy, Development and Tourism of the Los Lagos Region.
The ZOIT process began with a proposal that included a tourism diagnosis and ended with the elaboration of an Action Plan. The Action Plan contemplates the definition of a vision for tourism in the territory and a 10-year strategic planning, with 2-year implementation commitments.
The vision of tourism put together through work with the communities of Futaleufu and Puerto Ramirez, from Palena, is to recognize the Futaleufú-Palena ZOIT as “a consolidated and sustainable tourist destination through 2028, that maintains an innovative tourism offering with a local identity focused on the valuation of its pristine natural heritage and Patagonian culture. It presents comparative and competitive advantages pertinent to the development of experiences that special interest tourists are seeking, and to which the destination is focused.”
Among the main benefits of being declared ZOIT are the possibility of planning tourism in the area to enhance its benefits and minimize its negative impacts, according to the vision of tourism the territory wants.
“Zones of Tourist Interest shall be a priority for the execution of public programs and projects to promote the development of this activity, as well as for the allocation of resources destined for necessary infrastructure and equipment” (Article 17).
An important benefit of the ZOIT declaration is that for purposes of the Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA), it offers a measure of official protection for Chile’s environmental heritage, thus becoming a protective layer for the territory’s natural resources, especially for the conservation of the Futaleufú River.
Several projects are included in the ZOIT Action Plan. These include:
- Active participation in designing a scenic route on Route CH 231
- Bike routes and urban and rural municipal areas
- Development of geosites, trekking routes and lookouts
- Strengthening of the Local Identity that increases knowledge of the territory, its resources and tourism awareness
- Encouraging “photographic rescue” (documenting the history of the watershed and its people by collecting old photos)
- Traditional festivals and artistic and sporting events
- Public access to the Futaleufú River; the visitor center in Puerto Ramírez
- Obtaining a Seal of Sustainability
- Management of territorial planning tools
- Strengthening the management of protected areas
- Disseminating conservation measures
- Strengthening recreational fisheries
- Generating knowledge and assessing biodiversity; and
- Strengthening binational ties with Argentina to enhance the benefits of being a frontier town.
“We are very happy with the news,” said Rocío González Saldivia, Executive Director of Fundación Futaleufú Riverkeeper and in charge of the ZOIT Project. “The ZOIT declaration for Futaleufú-Palena was the result of a joint effort between the Municipalities of Futaleufú, Palena and the Futaleufu Riverkeeper Foundation, which together with the contributions of the community, public services and key actors gave substance to the proposal submitted to the Committee of Ministers. Tourism, preserving natural resources, and strengthening local culture and identity are key elements for the vision of development that we want. This vision involves more than than economic growth; it involves the protection of cultural values and the pristine nature of the territory as a framework for the quality of life for residents of Futaleufú and Palena.”