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Sat Feb 10, 2024, 05:16 PM Feb 2024

As Argentina's favorite vacation spot celebrates 150 years, gloomy times for vacationers in Mar del Plata

The seaside city of Mar del Plata celebrated 150 years from its founding by a beef jerky maker seeking to diversify into real estate - having since grown into Argentina's favorite vacation spot with a record 9 million arrivals in 2023.

But this summer they are few, tight-fisted and downcast. This year's trickle of vacationers to Mar del Plata is a dreary reflection of the country's economic woes.

With monthly inflation having tripled to 25% since far-right President Javier Milei was elected in November, few can afford to let their hair down.

In a normal year, this would be impossible between the tens of thousands of bathers gathered over vast stretches of beach in the town, some 250 miles south of the capital Buenos Aires.

Most years, in the high season between Christmas and February, the seaside resort receives six times more tourists than its 680,000 permanent residents.

This summer, the city is half-empty. Occupancy was only at 60% in the first half of January, according to Mar Del Plata's hotel association.

At the bus terminal, out of 42 platforms, only three are occupied by long-distance transport. Outside, the line of cabs waiting for passengers continues out into the street.

"Last summer, I did at least 30 trips a day. Now I'm happy if I get to 15," sighs taxi-driver Daniel Molina, one in a long line of idle cars awaiting customers near a bus stop.

"It's a lost season. Look at how it is,” he says, pointing to the quiet streets. “It's dead!"

At: https://batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/it-makes-me-sad-gloomy-times-for-vacationers-in-mar-del-plata.phtml

Aerial view of Mar del Plata, which celebrated its sesquicentennial today.

The city - long Argentina's top vacation spot - has been hard-hit by the recent "Mileise."

The country's already-struggling economy has collapsed since Javier Milei was elected two months ago, as businesses began taking advantage of price deregulation bills well before their (now unlikely) passage - raising retail prices by 25.5% in December alone and wholesale prices by an astonishing 54%, while wages rose only 8.3%.
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