Protected Areas, Tourism, and Rural Transition in Aysén, Chile

Heidi Blair, Keith Bosak, Trace Gale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Following global trends, nature-based tourism in the Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia has grown dramatically in recent years. This growth has challenged traditional economic activities derived from commodification of natural resources, including ranching, logging, and mining. A qualitative research study conducted in 2016-2017 used semi-structured interviews and focus groups to investigate how local residents perceived the changes that accompany rural development around the nationally protected area of Cerro Castillo, projected to be one of the region's protected areas that will drive economic development through tourism in coming decades. Results identified several themes reminiscent of the rural transition that took place in the western United States in the mid to late-1900s. During this era, the remote, rugged, wild frontier lands of the sparsely populated intermountain west shifted from an economy grounded in extractive industries to a service-based one, geared towards amenity migrants and tourists seeking recreation opportunities and closeness to nature. Patterns and lessons are drawn between similar transitions across geographies and timescales, which may assist planners with understandings of trends and tendencies as tourism continues to influence rural transition in Patagonia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7087
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Patagonia
  • Perceptions of change
  • Protected area
  • Rural transition
  • Tourism


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