Sabre Rattling Between Argentina and the UK May Affect Tourism

January 30, 2012 by

Day Trips, News & Alerts, Things To Do

The Falkland Isalnds off the East coast of Argentina are a contested area. Photo courtesy of Or Hitch via Flickr.

The Falkland Isalnds off the east coast of Argentina are a contested area. Photo courtesy of Or Hitch via Flickr.

It’s been almost thirty years since Argentina and the United Kingdom went to war over the Falklands Islands (or Islas Malvinas, as Argentina continues to call them). Despite decades of peace, history sadly seems on the verge of repeating itself.

Not exactly, though the similarities are striking. Just as last time, the average Argentine and UK citizens are getting along just fine, and there have been no reports of British tourists having any problems whatsoever in Argentina. In fact, Mirror UK travel experts forecast that Argentina, among other inexpensive destinations might attract more British tourists than other places this year.

Despite the personal good will, things seem to be heating up between the governments of both nationals, with Argentine President Kirshner criticizing Duke William of Cambridge’s posting in the Falklands as “provocative,” and British Prime Minister David Cameron accusing Argentina of colonialism. While both sides cite all sorts of historic, legal, and political reasons for their positions, the real issue is oil, vast quantities of which were recently discovered in the waters around the islands

What does this mean for you, the average tourist? Hopefully, not much, but this tiff is unfortunately beginning to spill over into the real world. Mercosur countries—Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as traditionally conservative Chile—recently banned boats flying the flag of the Falklands from entering their ports. Sea captains and port officials rolled their eyes, and efficiently sidestepped the new regulations by displaying, and accepting, the British flag instead.

Things were sailing along smoothly until last week, when a few dozen protesters (disingenuously characterized as a frenzied mob by less reputable British rags) burned the Union Jack outside the British Embassy in Buenos Aires. Shortly afterward, Port Stanley refused to allow a Princess Cruise ship dock for “medical reasons,” though many political pundits are interpreting this as still more sabre rattling.

We don’t have a crystal ball here at Viator, and even the experts are unsure about what will happen next. However, if you’re planning to visit the Falklands, or are a British citizen hoping to take in beautiful Buenos Aires any time soon, please keep an eye on the political situation before heading out. Currently, there are no travel warnings in place for travelers to either region, so don’t cancel your plans! But it’s easy to stay alert and in touch.

-Paige Penland

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