I recently came across an old notebook I’d carried with me on my travels when I first arrived in Argentina and tucked inside the back cover were some tickets from bus journeys I had taken. Travelling by bus had been such a big part of my trip around South America that it was nice to be reminded of the distances and experiences that these tickets represented. A couple had the prices on them, so I decided to conduct a little experiment.
That Argentina has been experiencing heavy inflation these last few years is no secret. Whilst the government has gone out of their way to deny it, even fining agencies who dared publish figures which disagreed with their own, living here it’s impossible not to notice prices increasing on a monthly basis. So having the prices from the past in front of me, I thought I’d take a look at how they have changed.
In March 2009 I travelled from Rio Gallegos to Buenos Aires, a journey of 36 hours which cost me 500 pesos. The same journey today according to plataforma10.com would cost 810 pesos – an increase of 61% over 28 months. Given that unofficial estimates of inflation have been around the 25% mark for the last couple of years, that’s not too bad.
Other, shorter and probably more popular routes have however suffered much more heavily. Looking at the tickets from my parents trip last October, the cost of Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn has increased by 62% in just 10 months. In the 31 months since I travelled to Puerto Iguazu, the cost of a Cama class ticket has gone up a whopping 154% from 185 to 471 pesos.
The most heavily affected by this type of inflation (which applies to everything, not just travel) is the Argentinian population who will be able to buy less and less as rent, food and transport take up more and more of their salaries which are not increasing by the same proportion as prices. However I do see another side effect which will be to affect tourism. As exchange rates have varied very little in the last few years these type of price increases are making Argentina twice as expensive to visit as it was only 2 years ago.
Flights to Argentina from Europe and North America are not cheap and the relative inexpensive costs (lodging, transport & eating) once you are here compensated for that making a holiday here a realistic proposition. The more those prices increase the less viable Argentina will become as a destination, something which will hurt both the travel industry and the economy as a whole.