It’s the only Major Market in Western Hemisphere that Hasn’t Had a Decline in Past Decade: Last month’s release of full-year 2017 arrivals data by the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) showed red ink awash on the pages detailing of figures that detailed year-over-year declines or, at best, flat numbers, for Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.
For Argentina, however, the report for 2016 was strong: Arrivals for the year were up eight percent over 2015, and NTTO has forecast that arrivals from the market will exceed the one million mark for the first time next year. A closer look at the arrivals data for all major markets in North American and South America shows that Argentina is the only country that has avoided a year-over-year decline in arrivals for the past decade (and beyond).
How is this Happening? For the past several decades, Argentina has grown to be a reliable market, as its “travel ready” middle-class and upper middle-class population has expanded. Its economy has grown steadily, with no crisis strong enough to deter this population from traveling, except in 2014, when the economic policies of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Dec. 2007–Dec. 2015) were deemed largely responsible for record inflation, an exchange rate that punished Argentines who booked travel through traditional channels and a heavy tax on purchases abroad. Even so, the travel trade in the country adapted and incorporated the cost of many elements of a holiday in the cost of a travel package and spreading out the cost of a package over time and charging no interest.
In addition to news developments from various channels, the news portal REPORTUR.com.ar just published a thumbnail sketch of other developments and factors that suggest a steady, demand-driven increase in the number of Argentine travelers who are pushing their number of arrivals in the U.S. over the million-visitors-a-year mark. Those factors and developments include the following:
- The results of the recently released report by the research and marketing firm Minturfor the year 2016 indicated that more than 50 percent of the country’s population made a trip at least once a year.
- According to the CACE(Cámara Argentinade Comercio Electrónico, or Argentine Chamber of Electronic Commerce) there are 34.5 million internet users and last year at least 17 million people made purchases online, a 70 percent growth vs. last year (2016).
- This changed the habits of middle and upper middle class families, who used to spend their holidays in the same places year after year and now they exchange with national and even international destinations.The users got used to being able to travel for a few days of vacations, and then incorporated the habit of traveling to make purchases
- The favorite destinations of international travelers are Miami, Santiago de Chile and now Asunción, the capital of Paraguay. (Chile and Paraguay border Argentina.)
- A relatively new trend among travel agencies is the “shopping tour” to the USA or Chile.
- Millennials are traveling in a different way.According to a Boston Consulting Group report, 7 out of every 10 millennials now expect to become familiar with the five inhabited continents.
- Three out of every Argentine millennials who have smartphones also have at least one tourism app for their smartphone.
- Another emerging market sector comprises retired, but still active, senior citizens who have retired in their jobs, but are still very active.Through ANSES (Administración Nacional de la Seguridad Social or National Social Security Administration), retirees are able to get discounts of up to 50 percent for airline flights and hotel stays.
- Lift capacity for international flights has grown steadily with most major carriers serving Argentina via Buenos Aires. But, regionally, the reach of Argentine travelers is expanding through carriers such as COPA, which is based in Panama. COPA, which already has a route between Panama City and Buenos Aires, is going connect Panama City and Mendoza, which is about 680 miles west of Buenos Aires.
- From Panama, Argentine travelers can then use COPA to connect with Boston, Chicago, Denver (beginning December 2017), Ft. Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Tampa and Washington, D.C., as well as to Montreal and Toronto.