In order to boost the tourism industry, Argentina renewed a program reimbursing 50% of prepaid travel bookings. It also offers preferred conversion rates for foreign tourists. The minister of tourism expects an historic touristic season.
As the touristic summer period approaches in Argentina, Minister of Tourism and Sports Matías Lammens has been repeatedly enthusiastic. “In November and December, Argentina is going to be overflown with tourists. We are going to live an historic season“, a statement said on October 24.
The reasons behind the minister’s excitement lie in the numbers of the PreViaje program, held for the second year in a row in order to support the tourism industry amid the covid-19 pandemic. The ministry announced that 1.5 million tourists benefited the program, three times as many as in 2020.
The program consists in reimbursing 50% of tourists’ travel budget, such as hotel reservations, airplane tickets or car rentals, paid in advance between August and December 2021 for trips in November 2021 until the end of 2022.
Money is then credited in a preloaded card or in a digital wallet and can be spent back in the tourism industry. Retired Argentine can receive vouchers for up to 70% of their budget; 150,000 of them benefited the program so far.
About ARS $30 billion-worth of receipts (US $300 million) were already sent to the program this year. Almost half of it is related to money spent through travel agencies, 35% in accommodation and 13% in airplane tickets.
A bank account with preferred conversion rates for international tourists
During the first weekend of October, more than 4.25 million Argentines traveled through the country, “the most important transit of tourism of the last ten years“, the ministry reported. The weekends of November 20-22 for the National Sovereignty Day and December 24-26 for Christmas are expected to be particularly crowded in the country’s most touristic areas.
Considering the program to be a success, Argentina also presented it to officials of Ecuador, Paraguay or Peru. The latter seeks to boost its tourism industry, too, as Peru offered more days-off than usual for the end of year to encourage domestic tourism.
Furthermore, the Central bank of Argentina also announced the possibility for foreign tourists to enjoy preferred conversion rates.
As international travel restrictions are removed for vaccinated people as of November 1, the country allows international travelers to open a bank account remotely, get a debit card and convert their money into pesos beforehand.
And instead of selling 1 US dollar for about 100 pesos through the official conversion system, tourists would then get 180 pesos.
With this incentive, the Central Bank hopes to avoid cash, especially American dollars, being exchanged in the informal market. On the street or in hotels, 1 US dollar, the dólar blue as Argentines call it, is worth about 200 pesos.
Actually, as the country suffers from a staggering inflation and trust in peso is low, Argentines prefer converting their cash in American dollars or even into cryptocurrencies, accelerating the depreciation of their national currency.
And by providing an incentive for international tourists to go through official channels, the country also expects to have more control of its monetary policy.