Argentina is increasing connectivity between its airports by funding airport renovations and opening up new routes, the country’s head of tourist investment said on a trip to the UK this week.
Sebastián Slobayen told Business Traveller the government had approved more than 1,000 new domestic routes in the last year and a half and was investing in improvements to 25 airports.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri promised a $1.47 billion investment in air-transport infrastructure in 2016, while a $750 million expansion of Buenos Aires’ main Ministro Pistarini International Airport (also known as Ezeiza airport) was announced earlier this year. The country’s airports had seen few large-scale improvements in the prior decades.
“The best way to improve the experience of visitors is improving the quality of transportation. Argentina is a huge country and you have to take flights,” Slobayen said.
“We are investing in the runways and equipment to be sure the quality and timing of the trips will be OK. It’s one of our main strategies.”
Argentina has increased international flights by more than 20 per cent since 2015.
Low-cost carrier Norwegian launched flights between London Gatwick and Buenos Aires in 2017, while IAG member carrier Level also launched flights to the Argentine capital from Barcelona last year.
Next year Air Europa will launch nonstop flights from Madrid directly to the UNESCO World Heritage site Iguazú.
The tourism board wants to increase tourism from seven million to nine million international visitors by 2020.
“We are opening our natural reserves to tourists and trying to facilitate easier visa processes, especially for the Chinese,” Slobayen said.
“We are also developing upper-scale projects in urban areas as part of a strategy to push for more tourism investment. We currently have $2 billion private investment in hotels, ski centres and investment centres.”
A delegation in London this week has been courting further investors as the government announced a plan to open up 46 national protected areas to new tourism projects.
In August a currency crisis forced Argentina to renegotiate its IMF rescue package, but officials told investors the weak peso provided a good opportunity to kick off projects at lower prices.