“Tourism with a Hand Lens” Wins Major Grant from Ministry of Economy

Intendenta con musgos y niños.jpgThe Chilean Ministry of Economy, through its Commission for Innovation, has awarded the Omora Park a $500,000 grant to implement Tourism with a Hand Lens as a specialty tourism offering for the subantarctic and Antarctic regions. According to Carlos Alvarez, executive vicepresident of the fund, “These projects have the objective of addressing the challenges related to innovation in specialty tourism in Chile. We hope that each of these proposals, found throughout the length of our entire contry, contributes to the development of distinctive, sustainable and high quality tourism offerings related to our natural and cultural patrimony.”

Since 2001, researchers in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve have focused on the diversity of mosses, lichens and liverworts found in what Dr. Ricardo Rozzi has termed the “miniature forests of Cape Horn.” In 2004, Rozzi and his collaborators began to promote “tourism with a hand lens” as a way to transfer this potentially esoteric information to development via tourism. Today, these efforts have been highlighted in numerous important newspaper articles, travel magazines and television documentaries. The grant given by the Ministry of Economy demonstrates the major committment from the Chilean Government to this initiative, as well as its ability to ally itself with important local and regional tourism companies, who must provide 30% in matching funds. Dr. Francisca Massardo, director of the project, says “This initiative, which we have developed in conjunction with local and regional tourism operators, is a tremendous opportunity to consolidate the years of efforts of the park to link research and society through ecotourism.”