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Number of Argentines travelling abroad rose 13.6% in first five months of the year

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Tourism survey records increase in citizens embarking on international travel, while foreign visitors have risen 2.8 percent in year so far

The number of Argentines choosing to vacation abroad is growing, a new study has revealed, with a 13.6 percent increase recorded in the first five months of 2017.

According to figures from the International Tourism Index (ETI), 1.6 million residents have departed the country for holidays since the beginning of the year, while foreign visitors over the same period rose 2.8 percent to total 958,000.

Economists attributed growing overseas travel to a weak dollar and therefore lower costs, making tourists more inclined to travel internationally. The peso-US dollar exchange rate remained relatively stable (within the 16 peso per US dollar band) from the beginning of 2016 until late June and — coupled with salary adjustment hikes coming into effect — there was more disposable income for residents to travel abroad, experts believe.

The economic effect is also visible when comparing the average number of days international tourists stayed in Argentina, in relation to those who travelled abroad. The average amount spent abroad by Argentines has jumped by 1.3 percent from 14.1 nights per trip to 14.7 in the year so far, though foreign visitors cut down their average stay in Argentina from 14.8 nights to 14.2, a fall of 3.6 percent.

However, not all Argentines travelling abroad increased their stay, the report concluded. So-called “shopping tours,” in which residents travel to neighbouring countries such as Chile and Paraguay to shop, were also noted in the statistics by the authors.

Brazilians lead, as number of nights falls

The report’s latest statistics, looking at the month of May showed that tourists from Brazil — Argentina’s neighbour and the mostpopulous country in the region — was the major driver behind the country’s modest growth in visiting tourists, with that group increasing by 13.9 percent from the same month last year to reach almost 50,000 tourists. Some experts believe this jump is in part due to the rate of the reais to the peso at the beginning of the year, which jumped from 4.6 reais per peso at the start of the year to 4.9 in May.

The average stay for Brazilians only increased by 1.5 percent to 6.1 days on average, however, meaning the emphasis remains on short trips.

The second biggest increase in visitors was seen in Paraguayan tourists, whose numbers rose 7.3 percent in May 2017 (compared to May 2016), reaching a total of 5,400. Those arriving from the rest of the Americas (not including Mercosur countries) increased by 5.7 percent to total 25,700.

All visitors on average, however, are staying less time in Argentina. The average stay in total for tourists was 11.6 nights in May 2017, with those staying the longest being Europeans at 21.9 nights, followed by the Americans and Canada at 15.5 nights and countries forming part of the rest of America at 14.5 nights.

Overall, the average number of nights in Argentina decreased by 2.8 percent in May, in comparison to the same month last year.

The International Tourism Survey takes its data from measurements totalling an estimated 50 percent of all tourism in the country, taking into account the Ezeiza international airport, Jorge Newberry, the Buenos Aires Port and Córdoba International Airport.

Tourism recovering

Although the growth in international tourism was tepid on the whole, it continues the positive trend seen since the numbers began to freefall in 2012, a year after having reached a historic record in 2011. From 2003 until 2011, the numbers of foreign visitors visiting Argentina had grown rapidly year-on-year.

When examining the number of international tourists visiting the country during the same five-month period between 2013 and 2015, two trends can be identified. The first five months of 2013 saw 2.2 million total international tourists visiting the country, before rising to 2.6 million in 2014 and 2.67 million in 2015. In those years, residents travelling abroad measured fell from 3.49 million in 2013 to 3.42 million in 2014, before spiking at 3.8 million in 2015.

“Foreign tourism to the country has been going through a sustained recovery. The progress in better airline connectivity, international direct flights to different national destinations, is bringing Argentina closer to the rest of the world,” Tourism Minister Gustavo Santos told Télam this week.

The growth in tourism, however, is believed to be driven mostly by business travel. This is because the country is viewed as “expensive” for tourists due to continuing high levels of inflation. Yet corporate trips still have grown slowly in the meantime, as the government pushes to reshape the economy and generate more investment. With events like the G20 coming next year, this trend is expected to continue.

“There are a few more tourists, but in general the increase in foreigners is explained by corporate trips. For tourists in general, Argentina is expensive, because of the stable dollar in this inflationary context. This equation leads to less visiting tourists and more people travelling abroad,” hotel consultant Arturo García Rosa, the president of Sahic and RHC Latin America told the El Cronista newspaper this week.

García Rosa believes that the year would end on a positive note and that numbers will pick up even more in the first half of 2018 due to an anticipated increase in business travel.

— Herald staff

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