Brazil's tourism sector's revenue grew 20% in the first two months of the year boosted by domestic travelers, announced the Brazilian Tourism Ministry. However the estimate includes a number of sectors like hotels, air flights, car rentals and travel agencies, which makes it difficult to give an exact sum of money spent by tourists.
Hotel occupation increased 23% nationwide compared with the same period last year and hotels were practically full in the city of Rio de Janeiro during the recent Carnaval.
Rio, Brazil's chief tourist destination, welcomed a total of 2.55 million visitors in the first two months of 2009, 50,000 more than last year.
The Carnaval festivals brought 719,000 people from out of town to Brazil's second city, while the New Year's Eve celebrations attracted 612,000 travelers who came to greet the New Year on the beach.
The Rio do Janeiro Tourism office, which offered no exact figures, said that there was an increase in local tourism that made up for the drop in international tourists.
Tourism Minister Luiz Barreto was pleased with the figures and said that "not all sectors have been affected by the crisis."
Tourism brings in 2.6% of the country's gross domestic product, with annual revenues equivalent to almost 16 billion US dollars, according to ministry figures.
Some 85% of revenues were spent by Brazilians traveling through other regions of South America's largest country. International tourism made up the remaining 15%, with close to 5 million visitors per year.
Argentines, Americans, Portuguese, Italians, Chileans, Uruguayans and Spaniards are the leaders, in that order, on the list of travelers who visit Brazil the most.
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