The fall of the Argentine peso becomes a "bargain" for tourists

The fall of the Argentine peso becomes a "bargain" for tourists



While the economic recession deepens in Argentina, tourism is one of the few sectors that remain afloat, as the devaluation of the peso opens a window of opportunity for the most savvy foreign tourists, who detect that it is now cheaper to visit the country .

Brazilians, Americans or Europeans arrive in Argentina with the endorsement of strong currencies under their arms, which allow them to travel to tourist spots such as Buenos Aires, Patagonia or Iguazú at a price lower than April, when the devaluation of the Argentine peso began and the escalation of inflation, which reached 43.9% in November since the beginning of the year.

Every Sunday, the tiles of the Buenos Aires neighborhood of San Telmo support the passage of much of the capital's tourism due to its street fair, in which craftsmen exhibit antiques, mates, instruments and souvenirs with the hope that potential customers, such as Americans Mike and Michelle, look at their position.

When they landed at the airport in the province of Mendoza and had to change currency, the Americans were surprised because the tickets they received almost did not fit into their wallet.

In April, a dollar cost around 21 pesos, but now its value is around 39, which gives Americans more purchasing power in the country, despite inflation.

"We are not happy about the situation in the country, but as tourists we take advantage of it," says Efe Mike, who clarifies that his decision to visit Argentina is not linked to the collapse of the currency.

The Brazilians Isadora and Guilherme can not say the same, walking through Caminito, in La Boca, a neighborhood that saw the birth of tango and whose colorful houses take away many of the flashes of tourists from Buenos Aires.

They thought that this was the ideal time to visit a city to which "everyone comes" and took advantage of an offer on a flight from their city, Belo Horizonte, to spend five days in the Buenos Aires capital.

"Food is cheap, taxis, buses … almost everything," says Guilherme, who has seen how in eight months the Brazilian real has gone from being worth around 6,000 pesos to approaching 10,000 units.

According to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC), this October 237.9 thousand arrivals of non-resident tourists were estimated in Argentina, which represents a 6.6% year-on-year increase.

Gustavo Hani, president of the Argentine Federation of Travel and Tourism Associations, explains to Efe that "beyond the country's tourist attractions", this increase responds "mainly" to the devaluation of the currency.

Likewise, he stresses that we must also add other factors, such as the creation of new airports in Argentina.

Andrew, from the United States; Giovanni, from Italy; and Johannes, from Germany, bought his ticket to travel to Argentina in April, just before the start of the crisis, and when asked if they are alarmed by the situation, the American responds unconcerned.

"No, in fact we have been able to buy more," adding that "it's like traveling in western Europe for a fraction of the price."

The obsession with the value of the currency also reaches the commercial street Florida, where large numbers of tourists go to do their shopping and every twenty meters there is someone who shouts to exchange dollars or euros for pesos.

Among the so-called "arbolitos" is María Fernanda, who notes that tourists resort to them much more than before for the change to benefit them more.

The other side of all this phenomenon are those who provide international visitors with products and services.

Adrián Lastra has spent 23 years in San Telmo selling fileteados porteños, a type of typical Argentine illustrations, and the formula he has used to adapt to the situation is to keep prices low and paint a lot more to balance the accounts.

"Most people do not update prices for the dollar (…) The guy who sells me the painting does update the prices, I have less benefit -by a painting-, but what favors me is that I move constantly," he says. to Efe.

Just a few meters away, Gustavo Étimos sells a type of guitar called "cigar box guitar", of African-American origin and made with boxes of Havana cigars.

With the increase in costs, it has been forced to reinvent itself and pull "wit" to stay at the fair, dispensing with some models and looking for new materials for others.

"Everything is disproportionate and you never know what you will find when you go to buy your supplies to rebuild," he laments.

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