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Argentina on Sale
 

Vacation planners do not typically hunt for countries experiencing economic crises, but Argentina’s repeated devaluations since 2018 have made the country a bargain for tourists. So despite relentlessly negative publicity for its economic conditions, it is an increasingly attractive option for U.S. travelers daydreaming about holiday plans.

 

Indeed, tourism to Argentina is a silver lining in an otherwise limping economy. In 2017, foreign tourists brought in $5.4 billion to Argentina’s dollar-starved economy. When domestic tourists are included, the sector now accounts for almost 4 percent of GDP. In the first three months of this year, the number of foreign visitors increased by 23 percent compared to the same period last year, including a 43 percent increase in Brazilian visitors.

 

In part, Argentina is piggybacking off a brisk increase in global tourism, which last year saw its ninth consecutive year of growth.

 

 

But Argentina has also made efforts to boost its tourism sector, and not only by devaluing the peso.

 

Though many tourists cluster in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, Argentina is blessed with diverse landscapes, numerous world heritage sites and affordable wine. But getting around the large country has long been costly and cumbersome.

 

Recently, that has begun to change, as President Mauricio Macri opens the country’s heavily protected aviation sector. In 2016, a set of reforms allowed low-cost airlines to compete with the national carrier, Aerolíneas Argentinas, and with the slow and costly coach bus service that had been the mainstay of long-distance travel. As a result, Argentina’s airline industry has seen sustained growth in demand and falling prices, allowing millions of Argentines to fly for the first time and boosting domestic tourism.

 

Mr. Macri has also invested in basic infrastructure, including airports and roads in the interior.

 

U.S. tourists to Argentina also benefited from a policy change in 2016, when Mr. Macri waived the $160 visa fee.

 

Though improved tourism is not enough to rescue Argentina’s economy, it has helped Argentina reduce its current account deficit, and it now accounts for 629,000 jobs. Amid all the economic setbacks in recent years, the thriving tourism industry is a welcome upside to Argentina’s latest downturn.

 

 

 

Cynthia Arnson is quoted in, Trump Attracts Central American Support for Hard-Line Migration Policies,” for The New York Times


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