By Santiago Carbone
Colonia, Uruguay, Oct 1 (EFE).- Residents and businesses in this historic town that depends on tourism are anxiously awaiting the re-opening of Uruguay to foreign travelers, set for Nov. 1.
Colonia del Sacramento, just 50 km (31 mi) by ferry from Buenos Aires, received an average of 2 million tourists a year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But since March 2020, Colonia has had to scrape by on the flow of visitors from other parts of Uruguay, a nation of around 3.5 million people.
Perched on the shores of the Rio de la Plata and with a wealth of colonial architecture that earned it a designation by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site in 1995, Colonia is home to picturesque spots such as the Calle de los Suspiros (Street of Sighs), the most-photographed locale in Uruguay.
Daisy Serebriski, owner of a souvenir shop in Colonia’s Historic District, tells Efe she is optimistic about a revival of business come next month.
“For me, once they begin to open the borders, people are going to come from all over the world,” she says.
On a corner near the lighthouse is a restaurant run by Gerardo Pernigotti, who says that the mood is already improving thanks to the re-opening of the port on Sept. 22, even though arrivals are limited for now to Uruguayan citizens and foreigners with legal residence in the country.
“There are proprietors, people who want to come to invest,” he tells Efe. “The port generates movement and this always brings economic movement. We are expecting that and we know that it will be positive. We don’t know how soon, but it’s going to be positive.”
And just in time for the return of international visitors, Colonia will inaugurate a new attraction to go along with what Mayor Carlos Moreira described to Efe as its “first class” hotels and restaurants.
On the grounds of the Real de San Carlos bull ring, which operated for only two years before Uruguay outlawed bullfighting in 1912, work is nearing completion on a cultural and sports center featuring a convention center, museum and 4,000-seat arena.
The grand opening is set for early December, days before the start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. EFE