Chile received a total of 3.5 million foreign tourists in 2012, a 13 percent hike over the year before and an all-time record, according to an official report issued Monday.

The 13 percent gain far outpaced the 6 percent increase that Latin America scored as a whole last year, Chile's deputy secretary for tourism, Jacqueline Plass, said.

"In two years we've gone from 2.7 million tourists to 3.5 million. The country hasn't seen such a growth rate since the year 2005, when tourist arrivals increased by 13.4 percent," she said.

According to the report, Argentina was the chief source of tourists visiting Chile in 2012, with a share of close to 40 percent, no less than a 23-percent increase over 2011.

Brazil had an 11-percent share and was up 14.3 percent, the report said, adding that the number of tourists from Colombia climbed 18.6 percent and from Australia, 37.3 percent.

One of this year's projects, Plass said, will be to work at attracting vacationers from Canada and Mexico, to get them on the list of Chile's leading sources of foreign tourists.

The goal, according to Plass, is to bring forward to 2013 the target of 4 million tourists, a number previously estimated for the end of 2014. 

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