On February 17, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Unfortunately, a key provision which the American Society of Travel Agents backed was removed from the stimulus bill in last-minute negotiations. It would have created a new program to streamline the lending process to home-based agents, American tour operators and most business in the travel industry.
While American organizations are awaiting the outcome of the bill, the Argentinean tourism private sector, in coordination with the Argentinean Department of Tourism is targeting American travelers.
Over 2 million tourists from all over the world visited Argentina during 2008, with the United States representing the third largest demographic in leisure travel. Forty percent lodged in 4 and 5 star hotels with an average spending of 113 USD per person per day (not including airfares).
Unfortunately, in January 2009, there was a 15% decrease of these figures compared to the same month in 2008 and these numbers are expected to go down 30%. However, the Argentinean government together with the private sector are not giving up on Americans; they are strongly promoting Argentina as a desirable and affordable destination:
With the current exchange rate, the dollar has become stronger again in Argentina, and as a consequence, expenditures in dollars are falling. Dining and relaxing in Argentina is a third of the price it is in America.
Fuel surcharges on international flights, that many airlines noted
as “taxes,” have disappeared. The total cost of flying to Argentina has gone down nearly 40% on Delta, American, Continental and United. All American carriers have at least one flight a day to or from Buenos Aires. Additionally, the Argentinean domestic airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas and LAN airlines, are decreasing base fares up to 30%. The rates are dropping so quickly that travel agencies can’t keep up with the overwhelming changes and prices.
Several hotels are launching promotions and daily rates to appeal to budget sensitive vacationers. Here is a sampling of a few current discounts:
The Art Hotel offers a third night free.
Sofitel Arroyo’s offers a 4th and/or a 5th night free.
The Alvear Palace offers a 30% discount on all stays over 3 days.
Grupo Fen (Dazzler and Esplendor) cut up to 40% on its properties, even the popular Esplendor Calafate.
All Eurostar hotels (Claridge, Cataratas and Colon) offer nearly 30% discounts through June 30.
Los Notros in Calafate released a 30% discount on all current packages.
Llao Llao offers similar appealing packages.
Argentinean and American tour operators are reaching out to American travelers
with several promotions. A&K now has a “Special Travel Savings” program. 1stClassArgentina ‘s offers a “Stimulus package” for under 1000 USD. Gap Adventures cut 200 USD per person on any of their South American programs for early bookings.
The Argentinean Tourist office recently invited American tour operators to spend one week traveling to Argentinean main destinations. Additionally, two American journalists were invited to the III edition of the Masters of Food and Wine, which took place from February 10th to 15th in Buenos Aires and Mendoza. The articles reached major American travel publications.
With all of these programs and promotions aimed at reaching American customers, now is clearly the right time to visit Argentina. It might even be the right time to come more than once!