The new airport (which was built in 2000) and paving the road to the nearby Los Glaciares National Park a few years ago have helped the increase in tourism . The old airport is the area where we are staying and the terminal is now the bus station. We think that Puerto San Julian (our street) is a former taxiway for airplanes. I don't know if it is true or just local legend, but it is said that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (the author of The Little Prince and a pioneering aviator) used the old airport.
Most visitors use El Calafate as a base for exploring the nearby glaciers and mountain trails. As we walk about town the tourism footprint is clear. There are many small hotels, B&B's, hostels and rental apartments. 100% of the streets in the center of town are paved, while in the newer growth areas 50% are dirt roads, many with recently built tourist accommodations dotted along the way. The main route through town, Avenida del Libertador Gral. San Martìn, has restaurants, sandwich shops, tour agencies and stores catering to outdoor enthusiasts. But luckily the city has a charm and "real people" feel - it is not a tacky tourist town.