UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect new policy details available here.
UPDATE: Argentina’s plan to slap a tourist fee on visitors has been postponed indefinitely, according to the U.S. embassy. It seems that officials here realized that imposing the fee on tourists wasn’t such a good idea after all.
To the best of my knowledge, the Argentine government has yet to determine exactly how it will implement its new entrance fee system. A Foreign Ministry official told me yesterday that visitors will have to pay to reenter the country every time they do so if their initial entrance period has expired. “U.S. citizens will have to pay the entrance fee every 90 days because they are allowed to stay for 90 days,” the official said. “It’s simple reciprocity.”
However, this same official suggested I call the Argentine Consulate in New York to double confirm the matter. I did, but a person there said “there’s nothing official” about the new policy, meaning that no decision has been made about how often the fee will be charged. Repeated calls to immigration officials and to the Interior Ministry (which has the final word on all of this) have been unsuccessful at getting more details.
Charging people US $134 every 90 days strikes me as counterproductive. It’s hard to imagine the government would actually do this. But who knows, the government continually surprises. There are countless thousands of Americans (not to mention visitors and part-time residents from other countries) who live in or spend a lot of time in Argentina. Many – if not most – are a constant source of income for Argentine restaurants and other businesses. Giving these people another reason to leave Argentina (and not return) seems unwise.
Meanwhile, if the comments received here (and via email) are any indication, many visitors will not come to Argentina in the first place because of the new entrance fee. How many? It’s impossible to say.
Setting aside the concept of reciprocity and the fee’s fairness motive, it seems imprudent from a purely economic perspective to add another disincentive to visiting the country. As we saw in a previous post, the number of people visiting Argentina is declining and could continue to do so. Moreover, with an unprecedented global recession heading our way, cash-strapped travelers need more reason – not less – to travel.
I’ll post an update as soon as I have more information.
UPDATE: I’m told by customs officials that the visa fee will not be charged until March.