By Luis Angel Reglero
Madrid, May 20 (EFE).- The change in people’s habits when the coronavirus pandemic finally eases up will favor nature tourism, meaning that Argentina will benefit from an “enormous opportunity,” the country’s tourism minister, Matias Lammens, told EFE on Thursday.
“Tourism is going to reboot. To a certain extent, we’re all starting from zero, and with that change in tourist consumer habits nature tourism is going to be much in demand,” said Lammens, who is in Madrid attending the International Tourism Fair (Fitur).
“Argentina has a great deal to offer in this area,” he said, specifically referring to the Perito Moreno glacier, “a spectacle unique in the world,” and Iguazu Falls, “one of the (planet’s) natural marvels,” along with many other attractions.
The “50 Destinos” (50 Destinations) plan, which finances tourism infrastructure throughout Argentina to broaden local tourism opportunities, is focusing a good portion of its efforts on nature tourism, with many different sites emerging as viable destinations.
Argentina has a “great opportunity” to cement itself not only as one of South America’s main tourist destinations, but also as one of “the most important countries in the world in terms of tourism,” the minister said.
Besides holding on to its traditional tourism markets in the region, such as Brazil, Argentina is also looking farther afield to attract tourists, including to the Chinese and European markets.
China sends some 140 million tourists abroad each year, but just 80,000 chose to travel to Argentina in 2019, while more Argentines travel to Spain and Italy than vice versa.
“Due to links of cultural, emotional, family affinity, Argentina has a great opportunity, and so we’re also exploring those markets” in Europe, he said.
This year’s edition of Fitur is atypical, since for the first time it’s a hybrid fair – both in-person and virtual – welcoming fewer live participants as a Covid-19 security measure, meaning that just 55 countries are taking part rather than the 165 countries that attended in 2020.
The fair, normally held in January, was postponed this year until May, but holding it is seen in the tourism sector as a sign that tourism is being reactivated as the pandemic slackens in certain parts of the world.
That possibility of “face to face contact” with the world’s most important tourist agencies and airlines encouraged Argentina to maintain its in-person presence at this year’s fair, the first one of its kind since the pandemic hit, with one of the largest and most visible displays in the pavilion for the Americas.
The “enormous post-pandemic challenge” is for tourism to be “one of the big axes of economic recovery” in Argentina, the minister said, adding that the country is working to recover and improve its “connectivity,” that is to say the flight connections with the rest of the world by reopening its borders.
Attendance at Fitur facilitates contacts with the important international airlines, including Spain’s Iberia Airlines, and it allows Aerolineas Argentinas to promote itself to the world, Lammens said.
Argentina “is a marvelous destination in all senses,” since besides nature attractions and “top-rank” gastronomical offerings in Buenos Aires, the country also offers Argentines’ traditional “warmth” toward visitors, Lammens concluded.