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LATIN AMERICA | 08-11-2023 17:01

Latin American countries seek to go back to pre-pandemic tourism

Latin American countries are on their way to recovering the tourist numbers they had prior to Covid-19 and are eyeing a return to pre-pandemic heights.

Latin American countries are on their way to recovering the tourist numbers they had prior to the Covid pandemic, representatives from the sector in the region stated at an industry event in London.

“From January to September this year, we welcomed 5.3 million tourists, which is 96 percent of the level prior to the pandemic (2019) during that period,” said Ricardo Sosa, executive secretary of the Inprotur Argentine Tourism Promotion Institute. 

Sosa was speaking as he attended the World Travel Market (WTM) event, which took place in London earlier this week.

“Argentina is one of the two countries in Latin America which recovered tourism the fastest compared to the years prior to the pandemic, together with Colombia,” added Sosa during the three-day event.

“The United Kingdom is among the top five nationalities of tourists in Argentina from Europe. Traditionally, it used to send 100,000 tourists a year and during this recovery we’re already at 70,000 British tourists,” he said, in reference to figures from January to September, 2023.

“We’re getting back 70 percent of tourists from the UK, with 40 percent less frequency of flights compared to the times before the pandemic,” the Argentine representative concluded, and pointed out that airlines had not gone back to the traffic they had prior to Covid.

Cristóbal Benítez, national director of the Chilean Nature Tourism Service, also wants to return to pre-pandemic figures soon.

“Out of the total visitors in 2019 we have 27 percent fewer to date in 2023. But if we compare it with 2022, we have grown in the European market by 141 percent. We have set ourselves next year to go back to previous figures,” he pointed out.

“Before the pandemic, among Europeans, British tourists spent the most per day in Chile, with an average stay of 14.5 days and nearly US$93 per day,” he added.

Argentine Ricardo Sosa confirms the importance of British tourists.

“The main European markets are Spain, France, Italy, the UK and Germany. Each British tourist spends US$1,500, which is three times as much as visitors from any neighbouring country. European markets spend on average US$1,100 or 1,200,” Sosa explained.

Even though countries from the Americas are the main source of visitors given their proximity, the European market is important, as highlighted by the Tourism secretary of Mexico, Miguel Torruco.

“Our main client is the US, followed by Canada and Colombia. The UK, with nearly 600,000 tourists, came in fourth. In Europe it is followed by Spain and Germany,” he stated.

Recovery from the pandemic seems to be a fact in Mexico.

“Last year we closed with 14 percent more tourists than in 2019. In 2022, we came in ninth in foreign currency income,” Torruco said.

“The new tourist profile has changed after the pandemic, and demands more open places, in touch with the population, to experience different places in the same trip, to enjoy food, and arts and crafts,” he concluded.

Gilberto Salcedo, vice-president of ProColombia, is also happy with the recovery they have experienced.

"At the close of 2022, a total 4,56 million visitors arrived in Colombia, which is 1.5 percent more than in 2019, compared with pre-pandemic levels,” he said.

“And from January to August 2023, we observed a 32-percent growth compared with 2022, with 3.2 million visitors arriving in that period. We had a goal of 5.15 million travellers this year and I believe we’ll exceed it,” stated Salcedo.

Marcelo Freixo, president of the Embratur Brazilian International Tourism Promotion Agency, also considers his country well on its way to recovery.

“Pre-pandemic figures have more or less come back. Argentina and the US are two good markets but Europe is also very important to us,” he pointed out.

Latin America knows about the importance of the European market.

“This market is not only a window to Europe, it’s a window to the world. I would dare say it’s one of the ones with the best business levels,” explained Colombian Gilberto Salcedo.

“As a whole, in terms of arrivals, the European market is bigger than the US market,” said Chilean Cristóbal Benítez.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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