Visitors to Bariloche and the surrounding lake area in Argentine Patagonia have almost doubled compared to last season and the occupancy rate has expanded 20% during the first fifteen days of 2004, according to the local Tourist Office.
For the rest of the month the 15,000 tourist hotel and cabins capacity is 80% booked. It is estimated that foreign visitors spend an average 90 US dollars per capita per day while Argentines, more hand tight average 60 US dollars.
"Compared to last year it's an encouraging season and the weather has been marvellous. We still have some idle capacity in downtown hotels and plenty of cabins but anyhow we would recommend people to book beforehand", said Gerardo Stocker, vice-president of the Bariloche Hotels and Restaurants Association.
Mr. Sotcker also indicated that a favourable exchange rate has attracted a growing number of foreign visitors plus better air services.
For the first time this summer there's a direct Jumbo 747 charter flight from Ezeiza that picks all arriving tourists, and Lan Chile has two weekly flights from Santiago which is a great advantage for Chileans that figure second in the list of foreign visitors to Bariloche.
However not all is bright and promising: several packers were robbed in near by mountain camps and a group of ten people, four of them foreigners suffered similarly when walking in the woods of a famous hill next to the city, Cerro Catedral.