Buenos Aires rides a tourism boom

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BUENOS AIRES -- Argentina's capital city is in the midst of a tourism boom.

Foreign visitors who are filling its restaurants, cafes and tango halls are discovering not only a beautiful and cosmopolitan city but one where the price is right.

Certainly, Buenos Aires is no short-haul destination, even from Miami, its nearest U.S. gateway.

However, clients may find that this is the year to break the close-to-home travel rule and venture south for Christmas shopping at devaluated-peso prices -- or to learn to dance the tango.

The market is awash in real-deal packages to Buenos Aires. Here's just a sampling, with prices per person, double occupancy:

• Tara Tours calls its five-night program Buenos Aires Super Buy. It is priced at $599, including air from Miami via Aerolineas Argentinas (add $34 from New York).

The package also covers accommodations at the three-star Hotel de la Paix, located downtown; a half-day city tour; daily breakfast; and roundtrip airport transfers. A two-day extension to Iguassu Falls is available for $358 with air. Call (800) 327-0080.

The tango, Argentina's national passion, was born in Buenos Aires. • Marnella Tours offers its five-night Buenos Aires package at $629 from Miami and $659 from New York aboard Aerolinas. In addition to air, the cost includes accommodations at the Gran Hotel Argentino, a half-day city tour, dinner and tango show at El Querandi, transfers and a copy of the Berlitz travel guide to Buenos Aires. Call (866) 993-0033.

• Maxim Tours specializes in what it calls Uncommon Journeys, including its four-night Tango Workshop in Buenos Aires.

The program includes accommodations at Abastos Hotel in the heart of the neighborhood where tango was born; a half-day city tour highlighting the capital's architecture; a private tango lesson and three group lessons in the evenings. The cost is $560, land only. For more information, call (800) 655-0222.

To contact reporter Carla Hunt, send e-mail to [email protected].

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