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Brazzil - Travel - May 2004
 

Tourist: Not a Bad Word in Brazil Anymore

Brazil intends to make an effort to change world tourism
statistics which show that the country gets a measly 0.6 percent
of international travelers. The Brazilian Government, through
its Tourism Ministry, is planning to spend from 6 million to 9.5
million dollars to fund a massive ad campaign all over the world.

Alana Gandra


Brazzil

Picture The Brazilian government is planning a massive ad campaign abroad to promote the natural and cultural beauties of the country. The ads will be presented at 30 international fairs and 6 workshops. The objective is to give the tourism sector a boost because it is a labor intensive sector. The ad campaign will have a budget between US$ 6.36 million and US$ 9.5 million.

With the campaign, Brazil will be making an effort to change world tourism statistics which show that Brazil gets a measly 0.6 percent of international travelers. The country seeks to get a bigger share of the world's biggest business nowadays. Tourism is bigger than the telecommunications and energy sectors, with revenue totaling US$ 3.3 trillion, the equivalent of 10 percent of world GDP, reports minister of Tourism, Walfrido Mares Guia.

Data from the UN World Organization of Tourism, shows that 700 million people traveled in 2003, compared to 25 million in 1950. Mares Guia says that number should reach 1 billion by 2010.

The minister points out that a job in the tourism industry can be created at low cost—between US$ 4,700 and US$ 6,600. So, if Brazil is to create 1.2 million new jobs in tourism between now and the year 2007, it will be necessary to invest US$ 5.7 billion to US$ 6.6 billion.

Mares Guia says that federally-run investment banks could cover the cost. He adds that some of the money will have to be earmarked for training and education of workers in the tourism industry. That, says the minister, is the only way to ensure that tourists coming to Brazil get the best treatment possible, enjoy their stay and come back for more.

At the end of March, Mares Guia had announced that the tourism sector in Brazil would be getting an injection of US$ 165.6 million this year in the form of regular ministry budgetary funding, plus congressional amendments to the budget.

The minister also declared that with the establishment of a Ministry of Tourism in January 2003 it has been possible to make an adequate x-ray of the sector and direct investments more efficiently.

The result is that the sector has begun to show signs of recovery. The minister pointed out that in 2003 the number of foreign visitors who came to Brazil rose 8.12 percent, to slightly more than 4 million.

The tourism sector goal is to reach 9 million foreign visitors annually by 2007, create 1.2 million jobs and generate revenue of US$ 8 billion. As for the domestic tourism market, the goal there is to reach 65 million passengers on domestic flights and offer tourist attractions in all Brazilian states.

All Year-Round

The president of the Brazilian Institute of Tourism (Embratur), Eduardo Sanovicz, said earlier this year that one of the chief goals of his company is to end the problem of seasonality, the influx of tourists limited to specific occasions, such as Carnaval.

According to Sanovicz, two strategies were adopted to deal with the problem: work on tourism in Brazil by themes and segments, and investments in the quality and diversity of Brazil's cultural production.

"Brazil has various products for commercial competition abroad, where we work with themes such as golf, underwater exploration, and resorts. They are products and services that offer quality as well as prices able to attract foreign clients."

Efforts concentrated on themes are independent of the seasons and can generate resources all year-round. "Fairs and congresses, for example, do not depend upon specific times of year. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are already well advanced in this area," he said.

Army on the Streets

The decision to send Army troops to Rio de Janeiro to join the fight against organized crime, especially drug dealers, is not going to be a problem for tourists visiting the city, said the minister of Tourism. "The Army is going to create problems for the drug dealers, not tourists," he told reporters.

According to Mares Guia, the presence of troops will increase security, because they will join forces with municipal and state police and secure the city's most important points, once and for all.

The wave of violence in Rio, the minister says, has not been news in the international media, except when something remarkable happens like the recent invasion in the slum known as Rocinha, or the burning of buses during the 2003 Carnaval.

Mares Guia cites statistics showing that tourism in Brazil is on the rise in general and that there has not been a downturn in Rio, in particular. And that, he says, shows that the security situation is not scaring tourists away.

In 2002, a total of 3.8 million tourists visited Brazil. In 2003, that number rose to almost 4.2 million. This year, expectations are for 5.1 million tourists. By 2007, there should be around 9 million foreigners visiting Brazil annually.

Mares Guia pointed out that a recent survey of tourists in Rio showed that they complained about the lack of signs, substandard treatment and expensive taxis. Security was in fifth place on the list of tourist complaints. He added that security is a worldwide problem and that the emphasis it gets in the Brazilian media scares Brazilians more than it scares foreigners.


Alana Gandra works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by Allen Bennett.


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