Incentive vacations—trips offered by companies to outstanding employees—was the theme of a meeting between nine British travel agents who are participating in the Brazilian Institute of Tourism's (Embratur) "Brazil Caravan" project and Brazilian representatives of the tourism sector.
The goal of the project is to familiarize foreign travel agents with the infrastructure of vacation destinations in Brazil. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Brazilian Tourist Office (EBT) inaugurated in London in June of this year. The participants visited tourist sites in Rio and departed for Salvador and Manaus.
According to Silvana Nascimento, the executive in charge of the EBT in London, the meeting provides British travel agents the opportunity to promote Brazil as a vacation option for people in the United Kingdom.
"In 2002, only 146 thousand British citizens visited the country. We are talking about a market in which four out of every five people have already traveled abroad, on business or for vacation. We have an enormous potential," Nascimento said.
The World Tourism Organization estimates that the tourism segments in which growth worldwide will be the greatest over the next 20 years are events travel, incentive vacations, and adventure trips.
The fifth edition of the Brazil International Tourism Exchange happened in May, in Rio de Janeiro. The event brought together around 300 tourism professionals from countries that never included Brazil in their itineraries, including companies from France and African nations, and 180 national professionals from the sector, such as representatives of hotels, inns, travel agencies, car rental agencies, service providers, and state and municipal departments of tourism.
The Tourism Exchange is expected to generate short-term revenues on the order of US$ 480 million. The Rio de Janeiro state secretary of Tourism, Sérgio Ricardo de Almeida, hopes to attract at least 50 percent of this total to his state.
Carlos Muzzio, director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa of the Brazilian airline, Varig, one of the originators of the Exchange, said that, based on the heightened demand for tourism, the outlook "is for Brazil to continue on the crest of the wave for at least another four years."
Recent occurrences around the world, according to the executive, have benefitted Brazil, which is considered a safe haven in light of what is going on in the world. Moreover, Brazilians, especially Cariocas (residents of the city of Rio de Janeiro), have an international reputation for their hospitality and receptivity to foreign tourists, he observed.
Another factor that stimulates tourism in Brazil is its low cost. With 15 euros nowadays, a foreign tourist can have an excellent meal at a Brazilian grill, while in Europe the same amount will only buy a sandwich and a hot dog.