The 2024 ski season in Argentina promises to be particularly expensive for winter sports fans. With annual inflation running at almost 288%, Argentina’s ski resorts have been forced to drastically increase the prices of their ski passes for the 2024 season. Increases in excess of 300% will put a strain on local skiers, leaving this winter pastime mainly accessible to foreign tourists. This article examines the economic and political implications of these price hikes in a difficult economic context marked by galloping inflation and the continued devaluation of the national currency.

Inflation in Argentina: a decisive factor

Argentina’s ski industry is an important part of the country’s tourism sector, with a number of renowned ski resorts spread across the country’s mountainous regions. The most important are in the Andes, mainly in the provinces of Río Negro, Mendoza, Neuquén and Tierra del Fuego. Among the most popular ski resorts are Cerro Catedral (Bariloche), Las Leñas (Mendoza), Chapelco (Neuquén), Cerro Bayo (Neuquén) and Cerro Castor (Tierra del Fuego).

THE ARGENTINE SKI INDUSTRY GENERATES ALMOST 800 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR

Foreign markets play a crucial role in Argentina’s ski economy. International tourism accounts for around 50% of total revenue, or $400 million a year. According to figures provided by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC), around 30% of visitors to Argentine ski resorts come from abroad.

ski catedral argentina

According to INDEC, an average of 200,000 foreign tourists visit Argentina’s ski resorts every year. The tourists come mainly from Brazil (40% of foreign tourists), Chile (30% of foreign tourists), the United States and Europe.

This dependence is explained by the greater purchasing power of foreign tourists due to the advantageous exchange rate. The sharp devaluation of the Argentine peso against the main foreign currencies makes ski passes and services much more affordable for international visitors.

Skiing in Argentina: increasingly dependent on international markets

In 2024, the Argentine peso underwent a spectacular devaluation due to unfavourable economic and political conditions. The national currency lost more than 50% of its value against the US dollar over the last twelve months, contributing to galloping inflation reaching 287.9% year-on-year (source : INDEC). This devaluation can be explained by a combination of factors, including ineffective macroeconomic management, the accumulation of a large external debt, persistent budget deficits and prevalent political instability.

When inflation makes the slopes inaccessible to local skiers

The resulting erosion of purchasing power has severely affected the Argentine population. Fixed incomes, which are not indexed to inflation, have seen their real value plummet, and the prices of consumer goods, a large proportion of which are imported or dependent on imports, have soared. In the context of skiing, this devaluation has had a direct impact on the domestic market, excluding a large number of Argentines from winter leisure activities.

According to figures provided by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC), ski pass prices have risen by between 300% and 355% in some resorts, making access to winter sports almost impossible for the majority of the population. This spectacular increase is part of a national economic context marked by disproportionate inflation, reaching 287.9% over the last twelve months.

THE MOBILE LIVING WAGE (SMVM) IN ARGENTINA IS 616.62EUR (MAY 2024)

Argentina is currently going through a major economic crisis. Inflation has reached alarming levels, pushing the prices of goods and services to historic highs. Ski passes are no exception. Ski resorts have had to pass on this inflation in their prices, provoking a negative reaction from locals and further restricting access to these activities to wealthy tourists.

As a result of these soaring prices, the ski market has become mainly accessible to foreign tourists, whose hard currencies benefit from a favourable exchange rate. Brazilians, Chileans and Europeans now account for 70% of visitors to Argentine ski resorts, taking advantage of ski passes that are up to ten times cheaper than in their own domestic markets.

The devaluation of the peso has therefore created a strong asymmetry between local and foreign visitors, upsetting the Argentine ski industry and reinforcing its dependence on international markets.

Soaring prices in Argentine ski resorts

Against this backdrop, ski resorts have increased their prices to maintain profit margins and adjust to rising operating costs. This has led to a dramatic rise in prices, impacting the local tourism market.

To provide a clear picture of what’s to come in terms of prices this season, Infobae has compiled a list of the prices charged by some of the country’s leading ski resorts. In each case, only the prices announced by each resort for the weeks corresponding to the high season (July) have been taken into account. Prices vary considerably from one resort to another.

The Cerro Catedral ski resort in San Carlos de Bariloche has seen its prices rise dramatically for the 2024 season. This season, the daily pass has reached ARS 115,000 (~€120), a drastic increase on the previous year’s prices (ARS 29,000, or around €30) and more than 10 times higher than the rates for 2022 (ARS 10,000, or around €10). Despite this sharp rise, the Ente Autárquico Municipal Cerro Catedral (EAMCEC) in Bariloche has revised its demands downwards, as it had initially planned to set the daily rate at ARS 155,000 (~€167).

To make it easier to buy ski passes, South America’s largest ski resort has revamped its online shop and expanded its physical points of sale. Ski passes can now be purchased in the centre of Bariloche, at the city’s International Airport, at the Shopping Unicenter in Buenos Aires and at the company’s Vía Bariloche terminals in the country’s main inland towns.

Cerro-catedral-ski
Cerro-catedral-ski

The Las Leñas ski resort, located in the province of Mendoza, has also applied a significant price increase for the 2024 season. Skiers can opt for a half-day pass from ARS 60,800, while a full day for an adult now costs ARS 81,000 (~€87). This represents a 355% increase on the previous year, when the daily rate was ARS 17,800 (~€19), and almost ten times more than the 2022 rate, which was just ARS 8,900 (~€9).

However, as in all ski resorts, the daily cost decreases in proportion to the number of days purchased. A two-day pass costs ARS 153,900, while a three-day pass costs ARS 218,700. The full season costs ARS 2,071,600 (~€2,150) per person.

Las Leñas ski resort

For those who choose to ski in Chapelco, in the province of Neuquén, there are various price options available. The daily pass for an adult costs ARS 54,600 (~€58). Skiers who prefer to arrive later can opt for a ‘passe tarde’, allowing them access to the slopes from 1pm for 43,700 ARS (~€46).

A gondola pass, which includes one ascent and one descent without equipment, costs ARS 21,800 (~€23). For those planning to ski all season, the full season pass is ARS 1,424,000 (~€1520) for adults and ARS 1,139,200 (~€1215) for children under 12.

Chapelco

In the south-west of Neuquén province, the daily package for an adult at Cerro Bayo is 50,700 ARS (~54€), while the half-day package is available for 42,100 ARS (~45€).

The longest package available is for 15 days, at a total cost of ARS 534,400 (~€570) per person. In addition, a special seven-day package for university students is available for ARS 282,200 (~€302).

Cerro Bayo ski resort

Further south, in Tierra del Fuego, lies Cerro Castor. According to information published by the company responsible for the area’s concession, a day pass for an adult costs ARS 81,900 (~€88), while children pay ARS 57,300 (~€61). As in other resorts, multi-day passes are available.

The longest duration is 30 days, at a total cost of ARS 1,229,500 (~€1315) for an adult, or around ARS 40,983 (~€44) per day.

 

Cerro Castor ski resort

Skiing in Argentina in 2024: similar price trends for equipment hire

The above prices only apply to daily and seasonal ski passes, but there are other costs to consider when taking a ski holiday, including equipment hire.

On average, at Argentina’s five major ski resorts, a complete set of equipment for an adult (including boots and poles) costs around ARS 30,000 (~€32). However, some top-of-the-range options cost more than ARS 75,000 (~€80). Prices vary considerably depending on the quality of the equipment.

Specific examples by ski resort

  • Las Leñas:
    Sport’ equipment: ARS 29,600 (~€32) per day.
    Top-of-the-range equipment: 39,900 ARS (~43€) per day.
  • Cerro Catedral:
    Standard equipment: 32,000 ARS (~35€) per day.
    Top-of-the-range equipment: ARS 50,000 (~€54) per day.
  • Cerro Castor:
    Full standard equipment: 27.500 ARS (~30€) per day.
    Premium equipment: 45,000 ARS (~48€) per day.
  • Chapelco:
    Full basic equipment: 30.000 ARS (~32€) per day.
    Professional equipment: 48.000 ARS (~52€) per day.
  • Cerro Bayo:
    Full basic equipment: 28.000 ARS (~30€) per day.
    Advanced equipment: ARS 42,000 (~€45) per day.

The trend in equipment hire prices has followed a similar pattern to that for packages, with significant increases. The average cost of complete equipment is now around ARS 30,000 (~€32) for standard options, but can exceed ARS 75,000 (~€80) for top-of-the-range options.