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All of South America, except Peru, is walking towards normalization of the tourism sector in 2023

All of South America, except Peru, is walking towards normalization of the tourism sector in 2023

The hotels, restaurants and airports of most of the tourist destinations in South America have practically recovered their usual bustle, three years after the pandemic left the sector in pieces.

But from the Christ the Redeemer in Rio to the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, what continues to be scarce, to a greater or lesser extent, is the foreign accent, a fact that has forced the sector to cement its recovery with internal travelers.

In Argentina, Chile or Brazil, the authorities hope that 2023 will be the year in which the quotas of foreign tourists finally exceed the numbers prior to the pandemic, something that Uruguay has already achieved.

Of this group, the one that has the most difficulty is Brazil, since it has only recovered 3.5 million foreign tourists of the 6.3 million that arrived in 2019, while in Argentina and Chile it has already reached between 70% and 75% of the pre-COVID-19 level.

The discordant note is put by Peru, where the deep political crisis and the protests in recent weeks have scared travelers and even some countries, such as Brazil and the United States, recommended that their citizens avoid packing their bags for destinations such as Machu Picchu.

full carnival

The prospects in Brazil are more rosy for this year, when the Rio Carnival will finally return to its usual date and there will be no restrictions on the party that foreigners like the most.

“The expectation is the same as the New Year party: reaching practically 100% hotel occupancy. Three weeks after Carnival, we reached practically 90% occupancy, which shows that Rio de Janeiro is going to receive all the people who come with glamor,” the president of Rio’s tourism promotion agency, Riotur, told EFE. Ronnie Aguiar Costa.

With the push of the sambadrome, Brazil can finally close the economic hole that the pandemic caused to this sector, which despite being fed mainly by the huge domestic market, still maintains activity levels 2.5% below what it had in February 2020.

Year of “normalization” in the Southern Cone

Uruguay has led the recovery of tourism in the Southern Cone and has had the best start to the year in memory, according to what the Vice Minister of Tourism, Remo Monzeglio, told EFE.

However, the beaches of Punta del Este are seeing a trend that is repeated in most of the region: Brazilian tourists are on the rise and Argentines are on the decline.

This is due to the fact that Argentines, due to the need to spend their local currency due to high inflation and difficulties in buying foreign currency, have to stay at home.

One consequence of this situation, combined with a government tourism promotion program (PreViaje), was that Argentina managed to exceed pre-pandemic levels in domestic tourism in 2022.

Regarding international tourism, 3.9 million tourists were reached in 2022, according to the Ministry of Tourism, although in the last quarter the level was still 75% of the pre-pandemic level.

This year, the country seeks to recover the levels of 2019 in international tourism and, in particular, is excited about the positive prospects for the cruise season.

The recovery of incoming tourism is driven by the arrival of tourists from the region, particularly from Uruguay and the United States, emitters that already exceed pre-pandemic levels.

In Chile, the picture is similar and the arrival of 1.6 million foreign tourists is expected, 70% of what was received during a pre-pandemic summer season, according to data from the Federation of Tourism Companies (Fedetur).

These numbers would contribute to a “standardization” of the operations of the sector, after three complex years, plagued by sanitary restrictions and shaken by a strong economic contraction.

In total, the arrival of about 30 million travelers is expected, 26.6% more than in the same period in 2022, largely with the contribution of domestic tourism, which has suffered from high inflation and the economic crisis.

Peru, in crisis

The outlook is very different for Peru, another of the region’s tourist powers, where the blow caused by the pandemic was followed by political turmoil.

Since last December, the Andean country has been locked in a crisis with no end in sight and in which anti-government protesters prevent access to the great tourist jewels such as Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines.

Before the pandemic, we received 4.6 million tourists, last year, 2022, we have received approximately 1.6 million and this year 2023, with everything that is happening, I don’t think we will even reach half a million”, explained to EFE the president of the Peruvian Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (Apavit), Ricardo Acosta.

The union representative added that, as a result of the protests and roadblocks against the Government of Dina Boluarte, incoming tourism reservations were canceled until approximately May of this year in destinations such as Cuzco, Puno, Arequipa, Ica and Piura.

A city like Cusco, a purely tourist city, cannot be in protest after protest, people need to work”, affirmed Acosta in reference to the ancient capital of the Inca empire and the gateway to the archaeological citadel of Machu Picchu.

The crisis in the sector was confirmed this week by the Minister of Economy, Alex Contreras, who stated that this activity “is in recession”, but he hoped it was temporary.

Tourism is a transversal sector, but if we see indirect variables, for example, what is happening in the accommodation sector, in the restaurant sector, in handicrafts, we are talking about a severe contraction”, declared Contreras during a presentation of the reactivation plans.

Source: EFE

Source: Gestion

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