BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The Argentine Chamber of Tourism said the tourism sector’s annual growth rate could reach 10% in 2011.
The government said it wants to see an increase of US$850 million compared to 2009, meaning revenue from tourism in 2010 would reach US$470 billion.
An increased number of tourists from the Southern Cone entered the country in July through the Ezeiza and Aeroparque airports, according to the National Directorate of Migrations.
The 103,993 tourists from Brazil represent a 385% growth compared to the same period a year earlier. Uruguay was in second place, with 11,069 arrivals, 94.8% more than in July 2009, and Chile was in third place with 22,921 tourists, an increase of 73.2%.
“I like the food, the meat and the prices,” said João Crisalli, a 36 year-old Brazilian tourist who travelled to Buenos Aires to buy designer clothing.
The Argentine capital of Buenos Aires – the point of departure for tours of the country’s interior – gets the largest number of visitors because it offers the most variety, said Alejandro Creus, director of the tourism company Altournatives.
“There are choices for everyone’s taste, from traditional to less-conventional tours,” Creus said. “But when it comes to choosing, most go for the tango nights, the typical, city tours of several days that visit cattle ranches outside the city.”
The country also experienced an increase in tourists in July from the United States and Spain. Officials documented 17,979 tourists from the U.S., 2.7% more than in 2009, and 8,937 from Spain, a jump of 14.8% compared to last year.
Micaela Rolón, an accounts executive at El Viejo Almacén, a traditional restaurant that also offers tango shows, said she has seen more customers this season compared to previous years.
“The traditional nights with a tango dinner show that lasts one and a half hours are completely booked almost daily,” Rolón said.
The costs to attend a tango show per person range from $229 pesos (US$58) to $311 pesos (US$79), and tango shows with dinner range from $414 pesos (US$105) to $540 pesos (US$137), Rolón said.
“Brazilians might make up 70% of the audience,” she said, “but there are also visitors from Japan, China and the rest of the world.”
Rolón added her business is recovering from the negative impact caused by last year’s H1N1 swine flu outbreak and the worldwide economic recession.
The Ministry of Tourism said more than five million foreigners could visit Argentina this year, 15.5% more than in 2009.
Some of the main attractions that Argentina has to offer are the Iguazú Falls, on the border with Paraguay, the Perito Moreno glacier, in Patagonia, and the vineyard tours in the western region of Cuyo.
But some tourists prefer to use their time in Argentina to learn more about tango, soccer and the nation’s history.
“In terms of learning history and culture, the main consumers tend to be Europeans, Americans, Canadians and Australians,” said Ignacio Villar, director of CulTour, a company that offers historical tours in Buenos Aires.
A guided walking tour around the city costs $75 pesos (US$19) per person, and a private tour, which includes coffee and transportation, costs $200 pesos (US$50) for groups of up to four. Fees are cheaper for bigger groups. Tours for groups between five and eight people cost $160 pesos (US$40) and $130 pesos (US$33) for groups between nine and 12.