Most major countries in South America have already opened up for international arrivals Chile and Argentina being the holdouts. However, the latter has already indicated that the external border would be reopened in time for the Southern Hemisphere’s summer travel in December.
Uruguay, a popular Summer travel destination for wealthy Brazilians and Argentinians, has announced that it will keep its external border closed during this period and encourages domestic travel.
Here’s an excerpt from the BA Times:
Uruguay, home to luxury beach resort Punta del Este, will keep international borders closed this summer, President Luis Lacalle Pou said late Thursday. The country, which boasts the lowest Covid-19 infection and mortality rates in South America, will opt to protect its public health gains over the economy as the virus rages in neighbouring Argentina and Brazil. Uruguay has recorded just 2,701 virus cases and 53 deaths.
“It’s the first time in history the country will have a summer season with its international borders closed,” Tourism Minister Germán Cardoso told reporters Friday.
The decision will mean foregoing a significant inflow of cash for an economy expected to contract 4.2 percent this year. Uruguay’s tourism industry, which depends heavily on the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere between December and February, accounted for seven percent of GDP in 2019, according to government data. About 3.2 million visitors entered the country from abroad last year, with 69 percent of that from Argentina and Brazil. Tourists spent nearly US$1.8 billion in 2019.
Uruguay is one of the wealthier countries in South America that gained its independence from Brazil in the early 1800s.
It is very challenging to see how domestic tourism could replace the number of visitors from neighboring countries, but this is probably the only way to keep the Covid-19 infection rates low in the country, considering what both Argentina and Brazil have experienced.