In this framework, Travel2latam spoke with Ricardo Sosa, Executive Director of Inprotur, National Institute for Tourism Promotion of Argentina.
Ricardo, I wanted you to tell me your perspective regarding this very important event.
Well, for us the English market is very, very important. It is within the top 5 of the main tourist issuing markets from Europe. Currently, 68 thousand English tourists are arriving between January and September and this is equivalent to almost a 70% recovery. We consider this to be notable because we still have 40% fewer frequencies than existed in the pre-pandemic and yet we are already at 70% recovery. Those 67 thousand tourists who arrive during these nine months continue to give us enough strength to project that by the end of the year we will already be in a full 100% recovery, and we will have done so only in one year, after the most recent pandemic. long and great history of the world.
Our presence here is also based on the support of the private sector. We are in a space, a stand, where we are accompanied by 24 companies from our country that have come from Argentina to make commercial agreements. And they are there, meeting with tour operators from different countries, making those commercial agreements. We are also accompanied by 6 destinations that come to work to promote, and we are a delegation of almost 30 people who during these three days are going to deepen the work we have been doing, positioning our country in the English market. But the characteristic of this fair, and that must be highlighted about WTM, is that it not only brings together the tour operator from England, but in reality it is a hub where different countries come together. In fact, this morning the operators have had meetings with operators from India, operators from Lithuania, Romania, Belgium, the Philippines, who have come from Lebanon interested in selling to Argentina with concrete proposals, with groups that are asking them to travel to the Argentina. So that is also a benefit that must be highlighted about the fair because it allows us not only to reach a specific audience in the United Kingdom, but also in many countries in Europe and Asia, which are also interesting for us.
Speaking of traveling to Argentina, many airline executives from all over the world are present, especially from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, as you mentioned. Are they going to have meetings to promote it with the activity in our country?
We have been speaking with the British Air Force, which is recovering its flights through Brazil to the Argentine Republic. Since last year we established contacts with Virgin Atlantic, with whom we also have negotiations, the negotiations are not immediate, nothing is confirmed but they are simply efforts that we make to interest them in our country. But in addition to that we are taking advantage of other airlines to generate arrival to Argentina via different cities. With Iberia we have made a very important agreement this year to position Argentina in Spain, but the interesting thing about this is also that we can use Iberia as a distribution hub via Madrid for English tourists arriving in Argentina, as well as Europe, we talk to Ita via Rome, and this is constantly. We have a concrete vision of seeking to recover the supply of seats to our country. Markets such as Europe depend specifically on airplanes to reach Argentina. And beyond the promotion that we have been doing is what I am telling you, meetings with airlines, constant negotiations with the airlines so that in the immediate and long-term future we can not only recover that full offer of seats but also have growth above the previous years.
Well, we are in November, I think it is pertinent that you give a comment about what you have experienced this year and what you think has been achieved in the country's tourism market.
We are really very proud and we say it with great humility of everything we have been doing at Inprotur with our Visit Argentina brand. 2023 is a year of recovery and growth of international tourism in our country. If we measure from January to September, the nine months, because we still do not have the numbers for October, but in these nine months, 5.3 million foreign tourists entered the Argentine Republic. This is equivalent to a 96% total recovery of the pre-pandemic tourist movement. However, if we measure with January-September 2019, we have 12 countries that are already sending more tourists than pre-pandemic. What does this mean? For example, in the case of Uruguay, in the pre-pandemic at this time we had 700 thousand tourists admitted and today we have one million one hundred. In the case of Brazil, in the case of Chile, we used to have 800 thousand tourists, today we have a million.
But if we are going to analyze a little in history, in five markets: the United States, Mexico, Canada, Chile and Uruguay, in the period of January-September 2023, the largest number of tourists entered than if we compare all periods of the last 13 years. I mean that there are historical records of tourist income exceeding the last 13 years. I think it is the best news that we can always announce because it speaks of the preference that foreign tourists have for the Argentine Republic today. And this is because in reality during 2023 we have carried out more than 200 in-person actions in 28 countries around the world. The Visit Argentina brand has had and has a massive presence in different areas.
At this very moment while we are here at WTM, digital campaigns are being carried out for all neighboring countries, in stores in Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile. Tomorrow we are participating in a product fair in San Pablo specifically related to UNES Meetings tourism. Last Sunday we were promoting Argentina within the framework of the Porsche Cup competition and a Formula 1 date. Next week we are going to have a commercial mission, a Bahia Argentina in the United States. At the beginning of December we will be in the United States promoting Argentina. Two weeks ago we were in Las Vegas, also at a fair called IMEX, promoting Argentina. Three weeks ago we were, at the end of September we were participating in ABAP, in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. A week before, before the end of December, we went on a trade mission to Peru and were at IBTM in Mexico. In other words, this speaks of the constant activity that we have been having. Three weeks ago, I remember, we were in Switzerland holding a business meeting in Zurich, Bern and Geneva, and this is the constant work we do and the best response we can have is the arrival of tourists in the City of Buenos Aires. There are constantly large numbers of foreigners from different parts of the world.
I hope this spreads to the entire country...
Well, that's the idea, but right now throughout the country too, right? They told me precisely when talking about what the English market is, that there are many English people who are going to Mendoza, we also highlight the North American market, the three North American countries; Canada, the United States and Mexico have historical records of tourist arrivals to the Argentine Republic and today you will see many Mexicans in Patagonia, something that was not seen much before. So, all these questions are what arise for us, we are very comforted when we see the arrival of foreign tourists and even more so when we observe all the operators who are working and have constant demand from different countries.
Do you think that beyond the promotion, these destinations that you mentioned that have an exuberant nature, are attracting the attention of these markets?
Yes, I believe that beyond the promotion, beyond the exchange rate, because in reality the exchange rate is beneficial for Argentina and sometimes the simplistic message is that because of the exchange rate and Argentina is cheap they reach the Argentina. But in reality, if you ask any English tourist if he knows the exchange rate in Argentina, he will simply go to Argentina because he likes Argentina. But why do you like Argentina? For what you have just mentioned, for the tourist products it has, the immensity of the territory that I always mention that Argentina occupies a space that is 10 countries in Europe and the low population density allows it to have very important spaces of nature almost intact, and many others to discover. So, every time people go to the Argentine Republic they discover new things. But not only because he goes to Buenos Aires, he goes to the Falls, he goes to Bariloche, to Ushuaia. But he begins to discover near Salta that the Calchaquí valleys reach Tucumán, that in Tucumán is the sacred city of Quilmes that suddenly travels south along Route 40, and when he goes north, to San Juan, to the Rioja, they discover that there are wines. So those issues are what I believe produce a great attraction and today they feel like Argentina is fashionable, and well it is reality and we are very proud of that. Thank you.