If you’re abroad and are thinking of coming to Argentina, it looks like the local government will be thrilled with your visit. The current administration thinks that tourism will be a key driver of economic growth in the next few years and is pushing to continue expanding it.
This week, while attending the Fitur International Tourism Fair in Madrid, Argentina’s Tourism Minister Gustavo Santos said he wants “9 million tourists in Argentina by the end of 2019.” It’s an ambitious goal, especially when according to the World Organization of Tourism, only 5.5 million tourists had visited the country by the end of 2016.
It’s hard to put the cause of this in just one reason, but it definitely doesn’t help that flying in and out of this country is expensive. In regard to this, Santos said he’s working on getting more flights and more airlines to fly in and out of the country, making flights hopefully cheaper and more widely available. He also added how later this year, direct flights will be available to and from several cities including Addis-Ababa, Toronto and Zurich, and direct flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco are hopefully not far behind. This effort also includes adding more budget airlines, including Norwegian, Lassa, Avianca and the new Argentine budget airline, Flybondi (which is having it’s own set of issues.)
Santos was not shy in telling El País that he believes there was a connection between the policies from the Fernández de Kirchner administration and Argentina’s low tourism numbers in previous years.
“The former administration’s absolutely wrong air-commercial policy was in line with their wrong vision for our country: an Argentina that was closed to the world,” Santos said. “The extreme protectionism of Aerolíneas Argentinas caused it to lose US $2 million per day. Today, this company consumes three times less subsidies than when we took office, and they’re much more competitive. They have more flights with record amounts of passengers.”
While the administration of current President Mauricio Macri focuses on competition and low prices as the path to more tourism and economic growth, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had, during her time in office, also emphasized the importance of this source of revenue for the Argentine economy.
“The travel and tourism industry in Argentina makes an important contribution to the national economy and is a powerful path towards territorial development, given its ability to generate decent work and wealth across the entire country,” Fernández de Kirchner said. She pointed as well to the benefits it provided in terms of “social inclusion and conservation of heritage,” in addition to the “balanced development of the habitats and identities of our people.”
Fernández de Kirchner created the Ministry of Tourism, Santos’s department, in 2010. It seems both administrations have have tried approaching the issue, albeit from different angles.