Argentina is rapidly becoming an expensive country for tourists and evidence of this is the declining number of tourists arriving in the country in the first months of the year while the number of Argentine travelling overseas is soaring, according to Mario Lielman, chair of the Buenos Aires Tourism and Travel Agencies Association.
Inflation, an over valued currency and the European crisis have hit the inflow of foreign tourists to the city of Buenos Aires, said Mr Lielman during the 38 congress of Tourism and Travel agencies, AAAVYT.
“Inflation, even high, has not been enough to counter the appreciation of the Argentine Peso and tourists think twice before planning a trip. Likewise for Argentines a strong currency and more accessible prices in the US and Europe have become a magnet”.
According to the latest stats the number of foreign tourists arriving in the city of Buenos Aires (by air) in the first four months of the year was 936.000 which is 3.1% less than the same period a year ago, and more specifically in April the fall was 5.6%. The number of Brazilians arriving, which have become the main source of tourists (30%), dropped 8.8% in April over a year ago.
This is particularly significant since for the last few years the number of tourists, month after month, has been growing sustainedly.
Lielman also mentioned the domestic scheduled flights fares which this week were increased between 10% and 20%, except long distances which were upped 30%. This is the case for en vogue places such as Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego or Salta and the Iguazú falls.
“For foreign tourists domestic flights are expensive. For example a full ticket London-Buenos Aires-London is cheaper than flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, El Calafate or Iguazú. This is discouraging for foreign tourists”, said Lielman.
But not only domestic causes can be blamed. The Euro crisis has reduced the number of tourists travelling to Argentina, particularly Spaniards, and this impact is felt much stronger because Europeans on average spend 25.5 days in Buenos Aires and are more willing to spend on tours and check in at the expensive hotels.
And while it has become tighter for Europeans it has become more attractive for Argentines to travel overseas given the cheaper US dollar and more accessible prices. The latest stats indicate that in the twelve months to April, 31% more Argentines have travelled overseas. The rate of growth in the first quarter was 10% monthly plus the fact that Argentines are spending more time overseas.
Likewise a survey of hotels’ reservations and bookings, according to official stats from Indec shows that in March 2012 the number of bookings was down 5.3% over a year ago, which worked out at 5,4% for resident Argentines and 4.8% for foreigners.
However Sergio Sanchez head of the AAAVYT, chapter Mendoza is not fully convinced: he believes the situation is worse, “The government presents the numbers in the most convenient way for its interests”, so the organization is seriously considering coming up with its own stats “to have a clearer idea of what is really going on