Wine tourists to Chile advised to be careful

Civil unrest is gripping Chile and travellers are advised that there are transport delays.

Santiago, Chile/Photo by Pablo García Saldañ on Unsplash
Santiago, Chile/Photo by Pablo García Saldañ on Unsplash

Chile’s tourism authorities have issued an advisory saying that most of the country’s tourism facilities are unaffected by the civil unrest gripping parts of the country, but to be prepared for transport delays.

“The news is more alarming than reality,” Aurelio Montes of the eponymous winery, located in the Colchagua Valley, told Meininger’s. “Viña Montes is OK. No problem, everything in peace.”

In early October, students in Santiago began a protest against subway fare hikes, with school students leaping over metro turnstiles. After police tried to stop them, unrest spilled over to the streets, with subway stations set alight and supermarkets looted. What began as a protest against fares has turned into an expression of public anger about inequality that has spread across the country. On Saturday, President Sebastián Piñera declared a state of emergency and stationed troops in the cities of Santiago, Valparaíso and Concepción. At least 18 people have died.

The unrest is a blow to Chile’s wine tourism industry, which has surged in recent years. But, of course, it’s even worse for Chileans.

“Older people say it is like back to 1973,” says Meininger’s correspondent Marcela Burgos, based in Santiago. “Lines to buy food and fuel, no school, offices closed, street riots, military forces on the street, lock down for third night now.” Ms Burgos says she is not going out on the streets until this is all over, “or until I run out of food”.

According to the travel advisory, the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport is operating on a regular basis, although some airlines have rescheduled their flights to and from the capital, causing departure delays. Transfers and taxis to the airport are operating sporadically, and flights to and from other airports in Chile may be delayed or rescheduled.

Travellers are advised to check the Tourist Information Offices for travel information and, if heading to the airport, should keep their passports and a copy of their boarding pass with them, to “serve as a safe-passage for travels to and from the airport”.

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