Tourism is a growing industry in Chile, but the kind of tourism that gets to Santiago is only interested in seeing the shops.
The destination for Latin American shoppers had long been Miami, where there are tours designed to take you exclusively from the airport to the shops and back. Miami stood undisputed as it offered the best prices and a decent exchange rate for Latin American currencies.
Macroeconomic changes in the region caused a shift in this trend, and now, at least for Argentinian shoppers, Chile is becoming the most common destination for people who exclusively want to shop.
Argentinian President Mauricio Macri’s new policies meant that Argentinians are now seeing significant benefits to making their purchases abroad. Most significantly, Macri reverted a 35% tax to purchases made abroad with credit cards, which naturally made shopping while traveling feasible.
Additionally, the devaluation of Latin American currencies towards the US Dollar made travelling to the US considerably more expensive and rendered it an impossibility for much of the population that could do it years back.
Argentina still struggles with high inflation and goods are still comparatively expensive, so as the need to shop abroad stood, Chile poised itself as the most viable choice. Its closeness means that many Argentinian tourists can take buses to the Chilean capital to do their shopping, or can even take their own cars and shop in bulk.
Many customers are reporting that they pay as little as half the price they would pay in Argentina for the same good bought in Santiago. The result is that the average Argentinian tourist in Santiago spends $450 during his stay, a 137% increase to last year’s average.