The Valdiviana Coastal Reserve (VCR) in the locality of Chaihuín was home to the launch of a new initiative called “ The Sea Route: Cultural and Natural tourism on the Corral coast”, a trail that includes 7 milestones of the natural and cultural patrimony of the southern coastal area in the borough of Corral. This was one of the results of the “ Coastal Communities and Marine Biodiversity: A route of cultural and natural tourism in the Los Rios Region” project, an initiative financed by FONDART from the National Council of Culture and Arts, Los Rios Region and carried out by the Conservación Marina NGO in collaboration with the Municipality of Corral, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Innovation Fund for Competitiveness FIC – Los Rios.
On the occasion, Gastón Pérez, Mayor of Corral, pointed out that “This project represents all the aspirations that we, as a Municipality and community, have with regard to our tourism development. People look for information, and we lack printed materials that would tell visitors of the wealth of resources that we have in the area. With these interpretive displays we must officially set up an information office in Chaihuín with more staff members to disseminate this route ”, the mayor of Corral said.
The project contemplated the design and installation of 7 interpretive displays along the coastal route, highlighting local Cultural and Natural Heritage milestones and their main subjects were identity, history, nature and culture. The displays are located in the communities of Amargos, San Carlos, Huape, Chaihuín, and Huiro. Additionally, the project includes the preparation of a written guidebook, brochures, a web page and large poster.
At the same time, Alfredo Almonacid, Manager of the VCR, indicated that having one of such displays on the land of the Reserve was very important since “It highlights the role that The Nature Conservancy has played till now in the creation and management of the VCR, the development and promotion of community tourism in this part of the region, highlighting some aspects of the territory as important as nature and culture. ”
The location of the displays is the result of collaborative work with the local communities. Agustina Andrade, anthropologist from the Conservación Marina NGO and part of the team that worked on the project, said that “Our aim was to highlight this patrimony, but also to join and to make a route that would promote links between the first coastal community that is Amargos, going through San Carlos, Huape, Chaihuín, Cadillal and Huiro. When we highlight a milestone in a community in a continuous manner it helps us invite tourists to walk along this string of communities and not simply direct their steps straight to Chaihuín which is, obviously, the most visited destination, but to take small steps, since the coastal route integrates very interesting places of hereditary importance such as the San Carlos beach, where we can find the remains of the San Carlos whaling industry or places that serve as marine fauna watching hotspots, such as the Huape Beach”.
A third player who took an active part in this initiative was the Innovation Fund for Competitiveness -FIC, of the Regional Los Rios Government through the “ Special Interests Tourism focused on the whale and cetacean watching in the Los Rios region ” project carried out by Universidad Austral and the Blue Whale Center, which supported the preparation of three milestones of the natural patrimony located in Morro Gonzalo, Huape and Huiro with technical skills and some financial aid and where today it is possible to watch coastal birds and marine mammals.
Continuity of the Project
Agustina Andrade confirmed that the associative work would continue. “ For us it is important to continue with the process of strengthening this network of people dedicated to tourism and linked to the route, and also to keep working with the Blue Whale Center, Sernatur, The Nature Conservancy and the Municipality of Corral. It is very important to generate coordinated work between the local communities and the public and private institutions that carry out development projects in the territory”, she specified.
Alfredo Almonacid emphasized: “ The fact that these actions should be placed in a context of collaboration and inter-institutional support is very important since we think it is the only way of tackling the management and development challenges that arise in a territory as big as the one that is made up by the Alerce Costero National Park, the Valdivian Coastal Reserve and the coastal rim of both. ”
Finally, Agustina Andrade indicated that the work carried out with the Municipality of Corral and the newly established Network of South Coast Tourism that integrates the communities linked to this experience was of utmost importance since the commitment of the NGO was to leave all the products that were prepared, such as the guide book, the brochures and the web page, for subsequent updates in the hands of the Corral and Chaihuín Tourism office and people linked to the route.