Government Policy

Argentina’s currency crisis a boon for foreign tourists

Argentines may be feeling the

pinch of their country's economic woes, but for tourists, the troubled peso

is proving a holiday boon.

Brazilian Pedro Perreira de Azevedo has been rubbing his hands in delight

after his family holiday, with his wife and three children, turned out

cheaper than expected.

We'd planned a budget of 7,000 reais (around $1,700) but in the end we've

spent between 3,000-3,500, said Perreira de Azevedo, while his family took

pictures outside the Argentine presidential palace.

When they arrived from Belo Horizonte in the east of Brazil on September

5, the peso had just lost 20 percent of its value in the wake of President

Mauricio Macri announcing Argentina would ask the International Monetary Fund

to advance a $35 billion loan to help prop up an economy in crisis.

With the peso having lost half its value against the dollar since the

start of 2018, the Brazilian real looks strong in comparison despite its own

difficulties � it has itself dropped from around 3.3 to 4.1 since January 1.

We were able to buy whatever we wanted and visit all the tourist sites in

Buenos Aires, added Perreira de Azevedo.

At Boca Juniors' stadium we even had a VIP visit! added one of his

daughters excitedly.

Not far from the iconic Bombonera stadium in the rugged La Boca

neighborhood, Lori Berho, an American living in Chile and on holiday with her

brother, said she felt lucky to have been able to benefit from such a

favorable exchange rate.

Last night we were able to enjoy a complete restaurant meal for two for

$60 when normally it would have cost $100, she said.

The struggling peso has left tourist guides a touch out of date.

When you read the tourist guides they say things cost more in Argentina

then elsewhere in Latin America, but over the last 10 days we've spent less

than we expected, said a young French tourist, Pauline Gauthier, meandering

though the historic streets of San Telmo with her partner.

� 'Everything costs double' �

Of course, for Argentines, known as great voyagers, the situation is the

exact opposite.

Romanina Valenzisi, a 34-year-old lawyer, booked flights for a two-week

holiday to Spain and Italy six months ago.

Now, she must pay for her hotels in Europe, but their prices have gone

through the roof.

In January, 18 pesos could be exchanged for one dollar, but that figure is

now around 38.

I have to pay for the hotels now and everything costs double, which is

coming out of my budget, she said.

I already know that I'll spend less money and buy less (while on

holiday).

Travel agents have been hard hit too as holidays have crept out of reach

for many people.

Sales of foreign travel have dropped 25-30 percent over the last few

weeks, said Vincent Chevalier, a Frenchman who has run a travel agency in

Buenos Aires for the last 28 years.

The crisis is also starting to affect internal tourism.

Even the center of Buenos Aires has been hit, as hotelier Gonzalo Sastre

has found out.

When the peso had a 'normal' level, we had a good stream of locals during

the week, basically people who came for work, he said.

Now, companies are sending fewer employees.

Even so, his hotel is booked out for the next two weeks, thanks to

Brazilians.

In this region there's a very opportunistic tourism based around the drop

in currency, added Chevalier.

Argentina's problems may improve the spending power of its visitors, but

it's proving a problem for neighboring countries used to welcoming large

numbers of Argentines, in particular Uruguay and Chile.

Uruguay is so worried that the numbers will drop off that it has

reintroduced a value added tax (VAT) exemption for tourists arriving from the

far shore of the River Plate in a hope to keep the flow of Argentines

flooding into the country during the January-February summer holidays.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)