Protests Cause Sharp Drop in Chile Bookings

People clean the Gen. Manuel Baquedano monument in Plaza Italia, after it was vandalized amid days of demonstrations.
Photo by AP Photo/Esteban Felix via Newscred

Bookings to Chile have declined sharply since a series of protests across the country earlier this year, although there have been some signs of a modest recovery over the past two weeks. That’s according to new research from ForwardKeys, a flight analytics firm. 

The protests began October 7 over a proposed transit fare hike, but over the next few weeks they escalated into a larger clash over economic inequalities in the country that have grown since the end of the repressive Pinochet military dictatorship in 1990. 

According to the ForwardKeys report, flight bookings for 2019 prior to the protests and up to October 13 ere up 5.2 percent year-over-year, and they were up 9.4 percent for the week of October 14 – 20. The following week, however, flight bookings collapsed, dropping 46.1 percent, followed by a 55 percent decline for each of the next four weeks. Over the past two weeks, during which time Chile’s President has announced a $5.5 billion recovery plan, although some protests have continued, there have been signs of a modest recovery: for the week of November 25 to December 1, bookings were down 36.8 percent, and for the following week, they were down 29.4 percent. 

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“Prior to the riots, Chile had actually been doing significantly better at attracting tourists than the 5.2 percent growth number for the first three quarters of the year suggests,” said Olivier Ponti, VP insights at ForwardKeys, in a written statement. “This is because there has been a steep decline in visitors from one of its most important source markets, Argentina, owing to the collapse of the Argentine Peso.”

ForwardKeys noted that, since the beginning of 2018, the value of the Argentine peso has more than halved against the Chilean peso, and visitor arrivals from January 2018 to November 2019 have fallen by 31.1 percent. Arrivals in Chile from Argentina fell to below 50 percent for the first time in September 2018, and that trend continued until March 2019, at which point the pace of decline started to slow, although the decline continued. 

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