International events have had positive effects on Chinese outbound tourism, with Russia and South Korea seeing increases following the World Cup and Winter Olympics respectively. And while Argentina’s recently-completed G-20 meeting isn’t the influential driver for tourism that a major sporting event is, the country is nevertheless hoping for a similar travel bounce.
The G-20 summit has been in sharp focus in Chinese media during the run-up to the trade meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, and Chinese citizens now have the South American nation on their travel radar. But will the media coverage be enough to attract outbound tourists to a long-haul destination that — thus far, at least — has hosted relatively few visitors?
Argentina welcomed 62,000 Chinese tourists in 2017. While that figure may seem insignificant compared to the millions of annual outbound tourists, it is more than double the number of travelers to the country circa 2015. The nation is targeting 100,000 Chinese visitors in 2019.
Argentina believes that new visa policies aimed at Chinese citizens are increasing tourism as well. The country now allows 90-day electronic-authorization entry to Chinese travelers who already hold a U.S. tourist visa or E.U. Schengen. The country also introduced a 10-year visa in 2016.
But one major obstacle that might prevent Argentina from reaching its tourism goals is that there are no direct flights between Chinese cities and the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. Additionally, the Argentina Ministry of Tourism has no presence on either WeChat or Weibo at this time.
Chinese tourists who already hold visas for the U.S. and E.U. are likely more affluent travelers, which Argentina would prefer. As affluent Chinese travelers actively seek unique travel experiences and destinations that are less frequented by their compatriots, Argentina may well benefit from its recent media coverage.
In addition, Chinese tourists have become more interested in travel to Antarctica, according to Ctrip.com International. Therefore, it would make sense for some tourists to use Argentina as a starting point for their Antarctic journeys. The online travel agency expects 10,000 Chinese tourists to head to Antarctica in the 2018-19 season, and many of those travelers will include stops in South America during their trips. Searches of travel packages to Argentina on Ctrip and Alibaba-backed online travel agency Fliggy returned itineraries for Antarctica and few that include trips to wineries in the region.