Felipe Castro is the North American Sales Director of Australis, an expedition cruise company specialized in exploring the “end of the world.” Felipe Castro has over 30 years of varied travel industry experience, working in the largest travel agency in Chile (Turismo Cocha) and the biggest Chilean Airline (LAN) when it expanded to Peru. He was the acting president of the Association of International Airlines of Peru (AETAI) for two consecutive terms, a Commercial Engineer, and boasts a bachelor’s Degree in business administration from Universidad Diego Portales. With such a background in Tourism, Felipe has a lot to say when it comes to travel.
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, Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn 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, Tierra del Fuego, and Cape Horn 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 to 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 ones that navigate those remote and wonderful routes through the maze of channels, fjords and straits around the bottom end of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn. 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 27 years in the area and navigating these waters is very closely related to science, education and, above all, the conservation of this magical region with so many national parks and other pristine areas. We partner with several organizations working to preserve and better understand the environment of our region including the Chilean Antarctic Institute, University of Magallanes, Patagonia Institute, Fantastic 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: Currently, Australis has two “twin” ships: Stella and Ventus, both built in the Asenav Shipyards, a recognized company at international level. The two boats meet the best standards to offer their passengers all the comfort of a cruise, but in an exclusive format. There are only 100 cabins, all with views from large windows to the outside, and spacious lounges that allow travelers to share experiences in a comfortable environment which has been carefully decorated to reflect the area.
Aware that the main attraction of its routes lies in the purity of its landscapes, the care of the environment is one of the priorities in the operations of Australis. All of its activities are carried out in a way that minimizes the impact on the environment in which they operate, meeting the most demanding standards and using state-of-the-art technologies.
TRO: Is there anything else you would like travel specialists to know?
FC: With the goal of improving our presence in the North American market and better promote our great experiences in Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn; we already have in action, a team of 5 Sales representatives located in 5 territories in the United States, 2 Sales representatives in Canada, and 1 Sales Representative in Mexico. They have the mission to train, educate, and promote the region and our cruises in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.