Uruguay welcomed fewer tourists but their spending rose 15 pct. in January


Uruguayan Tourism Minister Liliam Kechichian on Monday announced that during January the country welcomed 432,000 visitors, 29 percent fewer than during the same month in 2018, but each spent an average of $820, 15 percent more than during the previous period.

“Both the average spending and the spending per person ($117 per person per day) grew - by 15 percent in terms of average spending and by 23 percent in average spending per person per day - which tells us that fewer visitors came in ... January than in 2018, but they spent more,” she said at a press conference.

In addition, she said that total spending by foreign visitors in January amounted to $354,000,191.

“If we take the visitors into account, (this is) the fourth-best January in this entire period and in income it’s the third-best January,” Kechichian said, referring to the last five years.

In this regard, she said that the number of visitors Uruguay received in January is “almost the same quantity” it welcomed in January 2016, a season that the minister described as “good” although not “exceptional,” in contrast to 2017 and 2018.

Kechichian said that the fall-off in visitors was due, in part, to the economic crisis being suffered by Argentina.

“We’re suffering from the fall-off of Argentines - 300,000 Argentines came (last month) and there had been 498,000 the year before,” she said, adding that - on the other hand - the number of Brazilian tourists remained about the same.

In addition Kechichian emphasized that the numbers of Paraguayan, Chilean, Europeans, North Americans and Uruguayans living abroad who visited the country rose.

Although those places did not make up for the volume lost in terms of Argentines, they did go far toward ameliorating the loss, she said.

Other factors that contributed to the decline in Argentine visitors to Uruguay’s beaches, she said, included the presence of cyanobacteria - which change the color of ocean water along Uruguay’s coast to green and can irritate the skin of bathers - as well as rainy weather.

Regarding the progress of these bacteria along the Uruguayan coast, she said that “the future - in terms of questions linked to nature - is at times difficult to (predict).”

“It has a lot to do with the water temperature, salinity, ... whether it gets into the river or into the ocean. At this time, it seems that they appeared once again on some of the beaches at Montevideo, Canelones and Maldonado,” she said.

Nevertheless, Kechichian said that with the recent drop in temperatures, the cyanobacteria “are disappearing.”