Where's the party at? : An empty beach in Mar del Plata Photo via aeropuertosarg.com.ar

Crowds seem to be a bit of the running theme for the month of January. Turn out for protests and inaugurations around the world have been putting crowd sizes at the center of headlines for most of January. News about Mar del Plata seems to not be immune to this trend either. Hotels, roads and restaurants of in the beachside city left a lot to be desired from the point of view of businesses and rental property owners. Even with the number of sales and discounts on offer, some smaller establishments were at risk of closing due to an unsuccessful summer. The lack demand for accommodation hit real estate owners hard, while taxi drivers also felt the drop in the number of customers.

Just further north up the coast, the beach town of Cariló suffered as well. Its figures at the end of the month showed that the resort was on average only 70% occupied, the same as January’s average in Mar del Plata. Neighboring Punta del Este, meanwhile has been enjoying an ‘explosion’ of tourists, according to La Nación, largely thanks to the influx of middle-class Argentines.

Mar del Plata wasn’t a complete ghost town however; interestingly, Juan Pablo Maisonnave, president of Cámara Textil de Mar del Plata, an NGO focusing on the textile industry in Mar Del Plata, noted that though the number of tourists may not be all that different from other years, purchasing power is lower and people are spending less. While the first half of January was pretty disappointing, Mar del Plata’s food and real estate outlets were running at almost full capacity over the past two weekends. On top of the better weather, the increased figures in the second half of January may have had something to do with the line-up of free events, organised by Government as part of its nationwide ‘summer emotions’ campaign, which started on the 14th and brought food fairs, concerts, photography exhibitions to the resort.

The prospect of a surge of tourists at the end of this month, looks promising too. Starting on the 25th and taking us up to the end of February, Mar del Plata’s carnival will perhaps be its main attraction this summer. It is also scheduled to take place before many schools and universities start back on the 6th March. Not quite school’s out for the summer, but a welcome change to recent years.