Chasing the Deal: Visiting Argentina Gets Less Expensive


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A winery in Mendoza, in the heart of Argentina’s wine country.

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Argentine Ministry of Tourism

Argentina, land of the tango, gauchos and good wine, is also emerging as the land of the good deal.

Foreign visitors who pay for their lodging with an international debit or credit card — not cash — now receive a direct and automatic refund of the country’s 21 percent value-added tax. The reimbursement applies to all accommodations, from hostels and midrange hotels to luxury resorts and the rural estates known as estancias.

“Our goal is to position Argentina among the world’s top travel destinations by making it more competitive and affordable. To do so, we have been implementing a range of new policies,” said Roberto Palais, the executive chairman of the National Institute of Tourism Promotion.

Other measures include removing the $160 visa reciprocity fee that United States citizens were previously required to pay before entering the country, as well as lifting currency restrictions put in place by the former government. After taking office in 2015, President Mauricio Macri allowed the peso to float freely, substantially closing the gap between the official exchange rate and the black market rate. “Before this action was taken, most tourists would change money at illegal back street offices, called cuevas,” said Maita Barrenechea, the owner of Mai 10, a Buenos Aires travel company specializing in customized trips to Argentina. “Now they can rely on banks, ATMs and credit cards for a fair exchange rate.”

Air travel is also improving. The national airline, Aerolíneas Argentinas, is growing its fleet and recently added Cordoba as a domestic hub, offering a more strategic location for flight connections because of its central location, while a government investment of 22 billion pesos will go toward renovating and expanding 19 airports. The airline also introduced a streamlined version of its Visit Argentina Pass, which offers discounted domestic airfares to travelers purchasing between three and 12 flights (as long as fliers show proof of an international round-trip ticket).

Additionally, a number of low-cost carriers will begin flying in Argentina this year including Alas del Sur, American Jet and Avian. The Spanish budget airline Level has already launched a flight between Barcelona and Buenos Aires, and Norwegian Airlines will begin flying from London to Buenos Aires early next year.

“We’re aiming to reach nine million tourists by 2019,” Mr. Palais said. “There’s still a lot to be done, but we’re convinced we’re headed in the right direction.”

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