EFESantiago

About 5.6 million foreign tourists visited Chile in 2016, a 26 percent increase over the previous year, Economy Minister Luis Felipe Cespedes said Tuesday.

Argentine visitors topped the list at more than 2.9 million, followed by 438,915 tourists from Brazil; 403,605 visitors from Peru; 208,000 tourists from the United States; and 119,324 visitors from Colombia, Cespedes said, citing a new report.

In terms of visitors from Europe, Chile welcomed 77,987 travelers from Spain; 77,129 tourists from France; 73,854 visitors from Germany; and 51,611 travelers from Britain.

The report highlighted the increase in the number of Australian visitors, with more than 50,000, and travelers from China, with 22,992.

"A few weeks ago, Chile received the so-called 'adventure tourism Oscar,' which shows that our country has tourism potential that is unique in the world, one that we need to reinforce," Cespedes said.

Tourism brought in $3.13 billion for Chile last year, an 8 percent increase from 2015.

Tourism Undersecretary Javiera Montes estimated that the number of tourists could reach 6.4 million in the upcoming year.

"We hope that tourism will generate business for local communities, contribute to quality of life and employment, which is key for the country's economic development," Montes said.