Felipe Castro is the North American Sales Director of Australis, an expedition cruise company specializing in exploring the “end of the world.” Returning to Chile in 2005, he served as the Sales and Customer Service Director for Turismo Cocha, the largest travel agency in Chile. Felipe regards his best achievement as a Commercial Director as being able to participate in the team that developed the Lan Airline project in Peru, consolidating its operations through its subsidiary LANPERU; within the country of Peru, he immensely expanded his strong ties with airlines, tour operators, and travel agencies. Felipe Castro has over 30 years of varied travel industry experience, and was the acting president of the Association of International Airlines of Peru (AETAI) for two consecutive terms; he is also a Commercial Engineer and boasts a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from Universidad Diego Portales.
Travel Research Online (TRO): In 2016 you became Australis’ Sales Director for North America. What do you consider to be the most rewarding part of your job?
Felipe Castro (FC): The challenge of developing — via our different sales channels — the formula to reach all travelers of North America. To show and tell them about this unique experience of travel in a magical place called Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego that’s both remote and full of history, as well as something to be preserved for all humanity.
TRO: Is the North American travel market different or similar to travel markets in other areas of the globe?
FC: Travel consumers in the different countries have their own characteristics and within this there are also differences according to age and socioeconomic levels. The key is to learn and know these characteristics and then focus on the groups that are most likely our potential clients in North America
TRO: Australis specializes in exploring the waterways of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego at the bottom end of South America. In just a few sentences, can you describe the allure of these lesser-known destinations?
FC: This is really a unique part of the world, a place of incredible natural beauty that is very much worth exploring and discovering. The entire region is like one giant nature reserve, a rare part of our planet that remains pure and almost untouched by human interference. Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego are truly a place that everyone must visit, admire and help protect with great force and firmness.
TRO: Australis offers unforgettable experiences on expedition cruises that travel places where few other cruise ships venture. Is there a large market for voyages that travel down less journeyed paths?
FC: For sure there is a great market for smaller cruises of exploration and adventure. Our ships are also tremendously comfortable and are the only one that navigate those remote and wonderful routes through the maze of channels, fjords and straits around the bottom end of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. What we have lacked in the past is the ability to make this known to more potential passengers through our sales channels, associations, interest groups and other means that help us promote the region and within it our wonderful cruises and the unique experience of traveling onboard Australis.
TRO: Are Australis cruises for everyone?
FC: Absolutely! Our travel experience is for all types of travelers no matter what their age or where they come from around the world. The outstanding food and comfort level on our ships, the astounding beauty of the place, our shore excursions and the experience in general make Australis cruises attractive to everyone. We normally have many Baby Boomers onboard, but each year the number of families, honeymooners and Millennials is getting stronger.
TRO: Can you talk a bit about the ways in which Australis supports scientific and educational efforts?
FC: Our experience of 26 years in the area and navigating these waters is very closely related to science, education and above all with the conservation of this magical region with so many national parks and other pristine areas. We partner with a number of organizations working to preserve and better understand the environment of our region including the Chilean Antarctic Institute, University of Magallanes, Patagonia Institute, Fantástico Sur Birding and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.
TRO: Why is supporting scientific and educational efforts so important to you and Australis?
FC: Basically to preserve this region and maintain it as a living lung for all humanity.
TRO: What can we expect to see from Australis in the next year or so?
FC: Starting from next January  we will have sailing these wonderful waters in our new expedition ship — the Ventus Australis — which is currently under construction in Chile. This will double the number of cabins we offer in the region and increase our ability to bring even more people this remote and wonderful place in the comfort and style that earned Australis the title of “world’s best small ship ocean cruise line” last year.
TRO: Is there anything else you would like travel specialists to know?
FC: With the goal of improving our presence and penetration in the North American market and better promote our great experiences in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, we are organizing a new sales team which will have the mission to train, educate and promote the region and our cruises in the U.S. and Canada.
For more information on Felipe and Australis, visit them online at www.australis.com.