Chile Sells Antarctica as Fancy Destination

Chile is advertising the Antarctica as a deluxe tourist destination for big-spending travelers, especially from Germany. Antarctica is now selling as a travel destination. People usually relate it to scientific research and military bases, but they dont know they can fly down there as tourists, said Andrea Pivcevic of DAP Antarctica. A one-day trip to the South Pole costs $1,875 apiece, including round-trip tickets from Punta Arena (Chiles southernmost tip), sighting of sea lions and penguins, tours and a visit to the weather station.

There are also weeklong programs on a scientific ship that was converted as a tourist vessel and sails with a biologist, a botanist, an ornithologist and an Antarctica historian aboard. Fares range from $5,900 to $7,900.

Deep-pocket Europeans are increasingly looking for more and more special and exclusive destinations. And theyre willing to get their moneys worth, no matter how much those packages costs, Mr. Pivcevic explained.

Despite the tremendous interest in Antarctica, Chilean destinations continue to be the most coveted ones for the European market, with the Atacama Desert and Patagonia leading the pack.

Official statistics reveals that some 1.7 million foreign tourists traveled to Chile last year. Americans are on the top of the list, followed by Britons, Spaniards and Germans. As a matter of fact, the inflow of European travelers rose a blistering 26.5 percent in 2003.

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