The dynamics of Colombian foreign tourism has been positive so far this year. According to data shared by Anato, the travel agency union, with a cut to May, more than five million people were transported on international flights and the reactivation is 97% compared to 2019, the year in which the pandemic had not stopped. the tourist movement.
But the dollar is a black cloud that is settling in the panorama: although it has been cooling for three days, it continues at a ceiling that averages $4,400. Consequently, according to Paula Cortés, president of Anato, tourist packages and services have already risen 10% and the price of air tickets has increased by 23%.
“This affects the departure of Colombians abroad and could generate short-term cancellations in reservations, which implies a great challenge for our sector – and the country – on the path of economic reactivation that we are seeking,” he commented.
Experts in this sector reported that, apart from the dollar, in the case of airlines, there is another chain of factors that force prices to rise.
What about the flights?
Andrés Uribe, director for Colombia of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), stated that “the price of fuel has already reached such a high level that companies can only compensate for this rise with a price adjustment.”
It is worth mentioning that despite the fact that it has fallen, the international price of a barrel of Brent oil has reached peaks of US$127 this year, and that has been a difficult issue to manage.
Latam, for example, indicated that costs increased by 21% for airlines during the first five months of this year. And we must add another ingredient that puts pressure on the value of tickets: the high cost of goods and services in most countries.
Faced with this, Josian Chevellier, vice president of sales for the Viajala ticket metasearch engine, explained that in Europe there are additional problems derived from the pandemic. As he mentioned, as most of the air fleets had to turn off engines during 2020, airlines and airports on that continent made personnel cuts.
And because there have been outbreaks of covid-19, as he explained, companies have not been encouraged to hire new personnel at an accelerated rate, which has caused an increase in wages.
This is how prices go up
Chevellier indicated that, on average, Viajala users make five million searches a month. And from Medellín, the only international destination in the top 10 of tracking is Madrid, Spain, the rest are national destinations.
To get an idea, according to the expert, round-trip tickets to the Spanish capital are at $4.2 million and have increased by 53% in the last three months.
On the other hand, the platform’s metrics indicate that the search for international tickets from Medellin also decreased 13% between April and July. Hence, experts in this sector estimate that, if the high value of the dollar continues, the report on outflows for the following quarter may reflect a slowdown.
In the case of flights to the US, Chevellier pointed out that, based on the analysis of Viajala, it is currently 20% more expensive to travel to that territory. But he stressed that the rise in the dollar does not hit all destinations in the same proportion.
“Since there is devaluation in all of Latin America, then it is not 20% more expensive to travel to Peru or Ecuador. Obviously everything is paid in dollars, but there are many local costs that are not equally impacted, ”he added.
In addition, from his point of view, those who are currently leaving have not yet felt the impact of the dollar on $4,400, since they are, for the most part, people who bought packages in advance.
The tourism union agrees that this situation can also be used, since national tourism could benefit.
It is worth mentioning that, according to the Civil Aeronautics, 70% of air traffic in Colombia is domestic and, until May, it moved 13 million passengers, which is equivalent to 19% more compared to 2019. The president of Anato noted that “This will be a great opportunity to continue strengthening internal and receptive tourism (…) and to encourage more foreigners to visit us.”
According to data from Migración Colombia, between January and May the country received 1.25 million foreigners and the recovery compared to 2019 is 76%. It should be noted that, during the first quarter, US$1,457 million in foreign currency came in from tourism.
In line with this approach, Cortés highlighted Colombia’s recovery in the tourism sector compared to the global average: “We can compare ourselves with the world and say that we stand out against it in air traffic, because according to IATA, in May, the movement of international passengers in the world is still 36% below 2019, while the country, during that month, exceeded the pre-pandemic values by 11%”, Cortés pointed out.