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Cablegate: Ambassador and Secretary of Tourism Review

VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1760/01 2491305
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061305Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9143
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001760

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR ECON WHA/BSC
USDOC FOR 4322/ITA/MAC/OCAC/APEACHER
USDOC FOR 3134/USFCS/OIO/WH/RD/MKESHISHIAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAIR BEXP AR
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND SECRETARY OF TOURISM REVIEW
BOOMING U.S.-ARGENTINE TOURISM FLOWS


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SUMMARY
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1. (U) Ambassador Wayne met with Secretary of
Tourism Enrique Meyer to discuss ways to encourage
and support the growing tourism between the U.S. and
Argentina. He also advocated on behalf of Sheraton
Hotels/Starwood, which was caught up in a dispute
between two factions of the taxi drivers union. The
Secretary offered to work more closely with the

SIPDIS
Embassy in hopes of highlighting travel and tourism
opportunities. He mentioned that many U.S. hotel
chains are aggressively expanding in Argentina's
burgeoning tourism market, which attracted over 2
million visitors in 2006 and is growing 24 percent
per year. Following the meeting, the Ambassador met
with Mr. Sergio Hurtado of American Airlines. They
discussed current projects with the Secretary of
Tourism and American's application to the DOT to be
the first airlines to add an additional route (BA-
Chicago) since the signing of the new bilateral
civil aviation agreement, which allows significant
expansion of flights between the two countries.


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INCREASED TOURISM
-----------------

2. (U) The Ambassador recently met with the
Argentine Secretary of Tourism Enrique Meyer. Mr.
Dar!o Cervini, his advisor, and Mr. Hctor Espina,
President of National Parks, participated. The
Secretary who is a long time friend of the Kirchners

SIPDIS
from Santa Cruz province, explained that one of his
major priorities is to promote Argentina worldwide.
One of the projects to further that goal is the re-
design of access to and amenities available at
Argentine National Parks.

3. (U) The Secretary is also promoting a workshop in
cooperation with American airlines in Buenos Aires
during the month of September and has invited
approximately ninety Tourism Operators from the
United States. Further, he has launched a "virtual
University" for U.S. agents to acquaint themselves
with the numerous tourism locations located in
Argentina in order to better promote such locations
to their clients.

4. (U) In 2006, the Argentine tourism industry
reported a record year with about 4.5 million
arrivals, a 14 percent increase from 2005. In
addition, nearly 300,000 Americans visited Argentina
in 2006. According to the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the amount of Argentines traveling to the
United States is growing with a regular 12 per cent
per year, reached 212,000 Argentine arrivals in
2006.


---------------------------
TAXI DISPUTE AT BA SHERATON
---------------------------

5. (SBU) The Ambassador consulted with the Secretary
regarding the Sheraton Hotel, which was suffering
from a much-publicized dispute between the taxi
company serving its hotel and the taxi union. The
Ambassador urged the GOA to promote a rapid
resolution of the dispute, noting that the news of
taxis blocking the Sheraton in downtown Buenos Aires
can't be good for tourism. The Secretary agreed.

-----------------
INCREASED FLIGHTS
-----------------

6. (U) The Ambassador highlighted the July 2007
signing of the US-Argentine Civil Aviation Agreement
and thanked the Secretary for his strong support.
The new amendments will increase the number of
weekly passenger frequencies that U.S. and Argentine
airlines may operate between the two countries;
significantly expand the route rights for Argentine

carriers on their U.S.-connected service to
destinations in Canada, the Caribbean, Central
America, Mexico, Europe and Asia; allow charter
flights between the two countries; and modernize the
existing agreement's provisions on aviation security
and pricing. The proposed amendments affect only
passenger service.

7. (U) The Ambassador also noted that there is a
lack of on time and competitive domestic flights to
Argentine provincial cities. Some of the wealthier
provinces are encouraging other private carriers,
the Secretary said, but this remains a serious
problem for tourism and for Argentine citizens
traveling by air.

-----------------------
U.S. HOTELS ARE BOOMING
-----------------------

8. (U) The Secretary mentioned that another one of
his priorities is to promote greater investment in
hotel infrastructure. As a result of booming
tourism, which attracted over 2 million visitors in
2006 and continues to grow at 24 percent per year,
U.S. hotel chains are aggressively expanding in
Argentina's burgeoning tourism market. There are
more than 200 new projects underway, including major
projects like the Sheraton in Puerto Madryn and a
Hilton in Misiones. He also mentioned that hotel
rates, which have differed for local and foreign
guests since the devaluation of the Argentine Peso
in December 2001, are now beginning to converge.


-----------------
AMERICAN AIRLINES
-----------------

9. (U) following his meeting with Sec. Meyer, the
Ambassador visited American Airlines corporate
offices and met with Sergio Hurtado, Director;
Domnico Matinata, Regional Sales Director; Carlos
Harrington, Sales Manager and Hctor Per!coli,
Manager of Institutional Affairs. American
explained that they were excited about the launching
of their fifth daily flight to Chicago (fifth daily
American Airlines flight to Argentina) and with a
recent agreement to decrease the fees for airport
services.

10. (U) American provided the Ambassador with a
presentation on a project they are undertaking with
Secretary Meyer to bring 90 U.S. travel agents and

SIPDIS
tour operators to Argentina to learn more about ways
to promote Argentina as a destination for U.S.
tourists.

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COMMENT
-------

11. The travel and tourism sector in Argentina is
booming, and the boom is expected to continue for
the foreseeable future. The Secretary of Tourism is
taking positive steps by supporting programs to
bolster this trend. At the conclusion of the
meeting, he offered to meet with the relevant agency
heads of the U.S. Embassy in order to provide them
with updated information on the market and explore
opportunities to collaborate more closely. CS
Buenos Aires is in the process of arranging the
meeting.

WAYNE

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