BUENOS AIRES: From Buenos Aires to Bariloche, travellers are cashing in on Argentina’s cheap currency as the country grabs headlines as a go-to destination.
The peso has tanked nearly 50 per cent against the US dollar this year, the biggest drop in emerging markets. It has also dropped exactly 50 per cent against the Australian dollar. That loss has now become tourists’ gain, turning luxuries such as grass-fed steaks and world-class wine into bargains for globetrotters.
While wreaking havoc on ordinary Argentine citizens, the country’s currency crisis helped spur a 12 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrivals in September, the third consecutive month of year-on-year gains, according to government statistics. In the third quarter of this year, the number of tourists arriving via airports was up nearly 10 per cent.
Travel experts say the peso’s decline, for tourists, provides more fun with none of the risk. Life in Buenos Aires is still largely peaceful, especially compared to other South American cities like Caracas and Rio de Janeiro that have borne the brunt of recent economic crises.
‘It’s a ‘luxury for less’ scenario for travellers considering Argentina right now,’ said Pauline Frommer, editorial director for Frommer’s, the travel guidebook firm. Travellers ‘are seeing Argentina as a much less expensive country to visit and they’re not seeing any of the red flags often associated with economic instability.’
For tourists, the advantages of a weaker peso are clear at Don Julio, one of the top steakhouses in the world. The 800g T-bone steak, one of the most expensive cuts on the menu, goes for 975 pesos, the equivalent of just $A37.
There are signs of further increases in foreign tourism as Argentina gears up for the popular Southern Hemisphere summer. Airbnb expects a 60 per cent increase in international guest arrivals based on reservations made between August and October compared to a year ago, according to a spokeswoman.