You are here: Home » International » News » Economy
Business Standard

Low-cost luxury tempting tourists to Argentina after currency crisis

For tourists, the advantages of a weaker peso are clear at Don Julio, one of the top steakhouses in the world

Patrick Gillespie | Bloomberg 

Low-cost luxury tempting tourists to Argentina after currency crisis

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 has tanked nearly 50 per cent against the US dollar this year, the biggest drop in emerging markets. That loss has now become tourists’ gain, turning luxuries such as grass-fed steaks and world-class wine into bargains for globetrotters with greenbacks.

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 risks. 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 the recent economic crisis.

"It’s a ’luxury for less’ scenario for travellers considering right now," said Pauline Frommer, editorial director for Frommer’s, the travel guidebook firm. Travellers "are seeing as a much less expensive country to visit and they’re not seeing any of the red flags often associated with economic instability."

Cheap steaks

For tourists, the advantages of a weaker are clear at Don Julio, one of the top steakhouses in the world. The 28-ounce T-bone steak, one of the most expensive cuts on the menu, goes for 975 pesos, the equivalent of just $27.

By comparison, Keens Steakhouse in New York City charges $59 for a 26-ounce T-bone steak. Around the corner from Don Julio, a bottle of Rutini malbec wine -- a top brand in the country -- goes for 440 pesos ($12) at a local supermarket.

"It’s great for me," said Michael Kowalski, 52, of Minneapolis, standing outside Don Julio. He said he had great dinners in Buenos Aires for 700 pesos. "That same amount in U.S. dollars in the Twin Cities wouldn’t get you anything close."

Further increase

There are signs of further increases in foreign tourism as gears up for the popular Southern Hemisphere summer. Airbnb expects a 60 per cent increase in guest arrivals based on reservations made between August and October compared to a year ago, according to a spokeswoman.

In the past six months, travel booking website Hopper saw a 56 per cent jump in searches for flights to Argentina. Kayak, another popular travel site, has also seen a double-digit increase this year in searches for flights and hotels.

The surge in interest comes as Argentina wins accolades as a prime travel destination in 2019. Lonely Planet named the nation as one of its top "best value" destinations worldwide for next year. The Wall Street Journal recently dubbed Salta, Argentina as the most intriguing place to visit in 2019.

Low-cost luxury tempting tourists to Argentina after currency crisis

Another factor luring foreigners is the arrival of low-cost airfare. The government slashed regulations this year to welcome Norwegian Airlines, which recently started and domestic routes within Argentina with flights as low as $18.

Steph Darley knows she’ll miss at least one thing when she moves home to Sydney, Australia, next March after a year of study abroad in the Argentine capital.

"I’m definitely going to miss the prices," said Darley, 21, standing outside the Don Julio steakhouse in Buenos Aires. These prices "are a cheap night out for Sydney, but this is a top restaurant here."


©2018Bloomberg

First Published: Thu, November 15 2018. 20:49 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU