MONTEVIDEO – Uruguay’s tourism minister hailed a tranquil start of the vacation season and predicted the country will end the year with 2.8 million visitors, but admonished some businesses in the resort area of Punta del Este for “abusive prices.”
“We are talking directly with some business whose receipts show they are charging prices that are unacceptable,” Liliam Kechichian told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.
Noting that the government does not regulate prices, she said she plans to talk to the minority of business owners whose high prices are “harming the country’s brand.”
Buenos Aires daily La Nacion reported Monday that returning Argentine tourists complain of “exorbitant prices” Punta del Este, including $35 for a fruit juice.
In Punta del Este, a hamburger costs almost $12 and a portion of “rabas” (fried calamari) costs $16, “to mention just a couple of typical vacation meals,” the newspaper said.
“We are in daily contact with the private sector about this issue,” Kechichian said, adding that while most businesses behave responsibly, there are worrisome “episodes” not only in Punta del Este, but in other vacation spots.
With a permanent population of 7,500, Punta del Este attracts more than 700,000 visitors a year with its white sands, blue waters and ample selection of luxury accommodations.
Most foreign visitors to Uruguay come from Argentina – 1.64 million last year. The next-largest group were Brazilians: 392,993.
So far in the 2014 Southern Hemisphere summer, the number of Argentines arriving in Uruguay is down 10 percent from last year.
“A good pricing policy is an indispensable ally for a successful tourism season,” Kechichian said.