Within the framework of the IMEX in Frankfurt 2023 international fair, dedicated especially to meeting tourism, Travel2latam spoke with Arnaldo Nardone, Advisor to the Minister of Tourism of Uruguay, Tabaré Viera.
What is the tourism situation in Uruguay after the pandemic?
Like all the destinations that were seriously affected, we were having a gradual evolution and for us a very important measurement is the first quarter of the year 2023, since it marks the most famous product: summer, sun and beach, with destinations such as Punta del Este and the Costa de Rocha and Costa de Oro de Canelones, which at the same time make the additional complement of rural and ecological tourism very attractive. For us, it was a very important parameter to achieve the historical figures of 2019 in this first quarter and even surpass them.
What is Uruguay's relationship with neighboring markets?
From Uruguay we developed a series of very aggressive strategies in the typical neighborhood of our country: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay; and we also put effort in the rest of Latin America but to a lesser extent due to a budget issue. One of the reasons for its success is Argentina, which despite the problems it is experiencing, we do not stop working and we continue to give it the same impetus.
So, we concentrated a lot of tourism from Brazil, but we also had a very important Argentine presence. Now the battle continues month by month to see how the rest of the year goes, and the purpose, not only of this administration but of previous administrations, is to generate a permanent offer during the 12 months of the year with all the products that Uruguay has; among them tourism of events and meetings, which is one of the most effective in breaking this issue, as well as the hot springs destination located in the part of Paysandú and Salto.
What destinations are you promoting for further development?
This year we are going to have the Termatalia fairs from October 4 to 6 in the city of Salto and also activities in Paysandú, where we are going to be developing all the activities, aiming strongly at what is sold the most in Europe, which is health and well-being. , something that Uruguay had not fully developed.
Then we have wine tourism, wine tourism, and as a great novelty, Uruguay also captured the Wine Tourism World Cup for March 17 to 20, 2024, because we are precisely developing an implicit strategy for products that are important to us to capture events that position in the world, make us stand out and by bringing specialists from those areas to get to know us with direct and destination marketing. In addition, we are aiming at other events related to the ecological world, which is very important since the rural area offers great possibilities. From the farms to the tourist ranches, going through all the rural offers and all the areas of the mooring ports in Carmelo or Colón, they are historical products and converted today into a very important destination for Uruguay,
Do they have new strategies implemented?
Uruguay bets a lot on digital in its promotion, that is, the entire world is marketing digital content, networks and virtuality. We are working a lot with databases in predictive marketing, about what is happening and what is to come, such as trends in the choice of trips, specific dates, what is sought with the most average expenses, where most of the tourists on certain dates, which destinations they choose in products, who are our competitors in products similar to those of Uruguay, etc. We have really greatly improved the statistics of the Ministry of Tourism itself and an agreement was even signed with the National Institute of Statistics of Uruguay to modernize much more the way of collecting data, since today the world moves in that Big Data,
What does Uruguay offer to countries in Europe?
Uruguay has conditions, but a destination is not always positioned because it has the best connections or the best conditions. There are other factors that have a great influence, such as political-social or economic stability, because when a regional or world meeting is scheduled for 5 years from now, an organizer cannot find big surprises. In other words, what was analyzed when receiving the candidacy and winning it must be maintained over time.
What other differentials does Uruguay have to be chosen as a destination?
We are the only country in the region that exonerates Value Added Tax for regional and international meetings, so if a Latin American congress is held in Uruguay, 22% VAT is not paid on any of the contracted services, that is, if the The budget is 1 million, there are 220 thousand less that do not have to be contributed, and in some way we consider this a privilege and a strength, which has nothing to do with promotion.
In addition, the human scale of our meeting destinations is very important. Montevideo, Punta del Este, Colonia and now also Paysandú and Salto, have nearby hotels where there is no traffic stress, no conflict with pollution, there is sustainability, that's why it is Natural Uruguay. There are spaces where you can walk and enjoy, and today people seek to relax and look for a country of experiences, with good gastronomy and tranquility without great contrasts. That also makes the strengths when it comes to being the chosen destination both for vacations and for holding events and meetings.
What is the connectivity situation?
In terms of connectivity, we have good connectivity with Argentina, Brazil and Santiago, and also direct flights with the rest of America that connect us with Bogotá, Lima, Panama and with the rest of the world in Europe, flights with companies such as LATAM and Iberia. Our level of connection is enough to put us in privileged places.
What does Uruguay offer at the infrastructure level?
We have a property of more than 12 hectares, the Punta del Este Convention and Exhibition Center, which offers a unique infrastructure for holding events of all kinds. Its rooms have capacity for more than 4,000 delegates and its 6,700 m2 exhibition pavilion, added to the 60,000 m2 of open space for outdoor events, offer great possibilities in our country. And of course, we have the new Antel Arena Convention Center in Montevideo, which greatly helps the country to position itself internationally as a MICE destination, with a maximum capacity of 12,000 people, 1,000 guarded parking spaces and a large stage. Uruguay also has quality hotels with very professional services, and large conference organizers that give official support to the Ministry.