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Futaleufú Riverkeeper® Blog

Big advances in declaring Zone of Touristic Interest

Big advances in declaring Zone of Touristic Interest

Futaleufu continues on the path to becoming a leader in sustainable tourism

Puerto Montt, Chile, 29 July 2015. Futaleufu Riverkeeper, a Chilean foundation based in the town of Futaleufu, reports that the Los Lagos Regional Secretariat of the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism has granted the request to proceed with the Futaleufu ZOIT application, per Resolution No. 003 of July 21, 2015. A coalition of tourism companies, local actors, and communal and provincial tourism authorities are participating and collaborating in the process. There are high hopes that plans continue on track and include even more participants during the next phase. The news was well received by the towns of Futaleufu and Palena, which both focus on sustainable tourism and are working with various stakeholders to define desired models of development for the area and its communities.

The Zone of Touristic Interest (ZOIT) is a status issued by Chile’s Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism for territories where tourism plays a major role. Obtaining this declaration allows territorial planning in ways that promote and protect resources critical for sustainable tourism. In this process the municipality works together with public and private institutions – and in particular residents – to develop an Action Plan, with the goal of improving tourism and defining needed action, as well as who can help and commit to do so within a specified amount of time.

Rocio Gonzalez, Project Manager of Futaleufu Riverkeeper, expressed her satisfaction with the latest news. “Both tourism businesses in the area and public and private tourism entities have been tremendously important in defining the touristic vision we want for the territory. Their contributions were and continue to be very significant for diagnosing the current situation and defining lines of action for promoting tourism as a way to allow economic and social development that is in step with the protection of our natural resources, and particularly the Futaleufu River.”

Although significant progress is being made, it should be noted that this is only the first phase in declaring a ZOIT in the territory. Next up is the creation of an Action Plan, for which residents of both communities are encouraged to express their views on desired tourism development for the region. Ms. Gonzalez elaborated on the above, noting that “developing Futaleufu the way we want, to benefit all residents and grow in harmony with the environment, is the responsibility of everyone who lives in Futaleufu and Palena. The time to work and shape our future is now.”

The first phase consisted of diagnostic work and defining the vision and goals to achieve in the tourism sector. The area to be protected by the ZOIT can be viewed here. It covers a total area of ​​131 square miles, making up 22.7% of Futaleufu’s total political area and 2.3% of Palena’s. Within this zone you can find more than 80 touristic attractions, both natural and cultural, which are listed in the ZOIT.

The process brought several groups together in a first for the watershed. It involved town meetings in the communities of Futaleufu and Puerto Ramirez (part of Palena); a review of national, regional and local policies related to tourism; interviews with key actors working for the municipality, public utilities, and the private sector; surveys of tourism entrepreneurs; technical support from related institutions, especially the National Tourism Service and National Forestry Service (which currently administers protected areas); and finally regular meetings between town tourism officials and Futaleufu Riverkeeper’s Project Director, Rocio Gonzalez, who expressed her pride in being part of the process. “As a management tool, the ZOIT, will allow us to better funnel investment, which is important for both the public and private sectors. By thinking and reflecting on the type of tourism that we want to develop, we put ourselves in a strong position where it is the communities who are actively participating in shaping their own futures.”

What comes next is to await records from the Regional Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, including reports from the Municipality, related agencies, and a public consultation. Once completed, the next phase is to develop an Action Plan with concrete steps to achieve the objectives proposed in the ZOIT. Developing an Action Plan in a thoughtful and participatory manner shows significant progress for the communes of Futaleufu and Palena, proving that they can work together in voluntary fashion to achieve a viable and prosperous future linked to tourism.

Click to view or download a PDF of the Futaleufu ZOIT application. To participate in the process, you can send an email to rgonzalez@futaleufuriverkeeper.org.