SERNATUR – Chile’s National Tourism Service
“SERNATUR” is the abbreviation for the Servicio Nacional de Turism (National Tourism Service). This is a government department dedicated to the promotion and strengthening of tourism in Chile. For visitors, it’s a total goldmine of information. I wish I’d known about it when I got here. There are offices all around the country – visit here to find the location nearest you. I headed down to my local office (Avenida Providencia 1550, look for the white and pink columns) to see what it was all about.
The main part of the centre is almost museum-like – but I didn’t get far before being redirected to the Tourist Information Centre, the next door down (near the only pink column). Inside, you take a number and then when called, head over to the allocated desk. Employers then give you one-on-one time to talk to you about what you want to know about Santiago.
One lovely lady that I spoke with told me that most employees had basic language skills in English, French, German and/or Portuguese. Luckily for us English-speakers, lots of the brochures are also available in English. The main focus of the information is on historical and cultural sites in Santiago – they call it “Orientation to Santiago”. This includes museums, churches and cultural and traditional areas of the city. Information about the different barrios, the Metro and maps are conveniently included, and there’s a “What’s On” guide, full of information about gigs, sights and current events.
The Santiago office is located on Avenida Providencia 1550 (between Metros Manual Montt and Pedro de Valdivia). There is also an office out at the Santiago Airport. You can go into the office, or if you trust your Spanish, call +56 22 731 83 10 or even email (visit here to find the appropriate address). They aim to reply to all emails within 72 hours.