Argentina's Currency Loss Is Tourists' Gain
The Argentine peso has slid nearly 50 percent against the U.S. 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 overseas visitors.
The country’s currency crisis helped spur a 12 percent 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 percent.
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 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.
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.
(source: Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg 15NOV18)