The “Gaucho Rivero” bill which bans the access of British flagged (red ensign) or convenience flagged vessels which call in the Falkland Islands remains fully in force for Ushuaia, said Marcelo Echazú, head of the Tierra del Fuego Tourism Institute, Infuetur, on announcing this year’s cruise season.
“The law is full in force. The important thing is that the issue is known by tourism operators and to that respect I must say they are well aware that if they organize a cruise that includes calling in Malvinas, and later they pretend to access the port of Ushuaia, authorities will not allow it”, said Ecahzú.
Implementing a law which is enforceable is a “matter of self respect” added Echazú.
As to the 2013/14 cruise season Echazú said that Ushuaia is expecting 263 calls which means approximately 85.000 visitors, above last year’s. The first to arrive was Chilean flagged “Stella Australis” in September and the last cruise is scheduled for 9 April.
“By the number of calls confirmed, but even more important the quality of vessels calling, we believe the number of visitors will be similar to last season, with a slight increase as has been the case season after season”, said Echazú.
According to Infuter the number of vessels involved will be 38, from 16 different operators in countries such as the US, Germany, Australia, France and Canada. Among the highlights according to Echazú are the Pullmantur from Bahamas with 1.350 passengers; Celebrity Cruise based in Malta with 2.050 pax and ‘Aida Kreuzfahrten’ from Germany with 1.200 pax.
“Ushuaia not only has tourism attractions but also infrastructure advantages. Among them a port very close to the heart of the city: it’s one of the few ports in the world with that advantage” underlined Echazú who also mentioned other pluses: security, lower crime rate and notorious presence of law enforcement officers.
Echazú said that the capital of Tierra del Fuego continues to concentrate 90% of Antarctic tourism, after having reached a record 97% in the 2007/08 season, which then peaked off because of “climate conditions, problems with some of the vessels and an economic recession in many of the countries which provide most of the visitors”.
Besides cruise vessels Ushuaia is the hub for yachts, sailing vessels of different sizes and scientific research ships heading for Antarctica.
The Gaucho Rivero bill recalls an alleged Argentine gaucho Antonio Rivero who in the 1830ies arrived in the Falklands contracted by an Argentine party but later because of lack of pay and exploitation conditions murdered several of his contractors.
He was captured by a British naval squadron and sent to England on trial, but since under the British colonial system the colonies had their own distinct government, finances and judicial system, Rivero was not tried and sentenced. Acquitted he was deported to Rio do Janeiro and later to the River Plate.
Nevertheless Rivero has acquired the status of a folk hero for Argentine nationalists and is portrayed as leading a rebellion against British rule. The bill which carries his name has been approved by several Patagonian provinces but not all of them enforce it.