Land of Pampas attracts Chinese visitors

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, December 1, 2018
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Image taken on June 1, 2016 shows the exclusive and traditional Llao Llao Hotel, in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche, Rio Negro Province, Argentina. [File photo/Xinhua]

Argentina has seen a big increase in Chinese visitors thanks to the country's preferential visa policy and tourists' growing demand for more diverse travel experiences, travel industry insiders say.

China and Argentina signed a deal in May 2017 introducing 10-year, multiple-entry business and tourist visas for Chinese, allowing them to stay up to 90 days per visit. The application costs about US$150.

In 2016, the country's immigration authority also introduced electronic travel authorization for Chinese holding a valid visa to the United States or Europe's Schengen Area, which they can apply for online for US$50.

As a result, online travel agency Ctrip said it has seen interest rise in packages to the South American nation, especially among independent travelers attracted by its vast grasslands and mountains.

"Route 40 (in western Argentina) and the route from Buenos Aires to Mendoza crossing the Pampas grassland are considered the country's best driving routes," Ctrip said in a statement. "The 10-year visa available to Chinese travelers will attract more visitors to these breathtaking spots."

Zuzuche, an online car rental site, has also seen Chinese customers in Argentina soar in the past three years. The company said reservations rose by 46 percent year-on-year in 2017 and are up by 71 percent so far this year.

"Though Argentina remains a niche destination, the simplified visa application policies and determination among Chinese travelers to experience local life and marvelous landscapes will strongly drive the development of independent travel in Argentina," the company added.

Zhang Xing, 35, from Beijing, is planning a trip to Argentina with his wife in July.

"We toured the Inner Mongolia and Tibet autonomous regions in a caravan last year," he said. "We've long been dreaming of driving a car across Argentina's Route 40. It'll be amazing."

Sun Bin, a sales manager for China International Travel Service, is optimistic about Argentina.

"It's certain that outbound tourism to Argentina has boomed as the South American country becomes more recognized by Chinese people and expenses covering packages to Argentina (become) affordable to average people," he said.

Travelers usually choose packages of 16 to 23 days in South America and spend about a week in Argentina. Tour packages range in price from about 50,000 to 70,000 yuan (US$7,200 to US$10,000), Sun said.

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