Professional workers in the area of tourism in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be trained to take better care of visitors that come to that city know worldwide as the Marvelous City, starting this month.
The training program is part of an US$ 803 thousand agreement, which will be signed this week between Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism and the Rio de Janeiro municipal secretariat of tourism.
The secretary of Tourism Development Programs of the Ministry, Maria Luisa Campos, says that the effort will be of help to taxi-drivers, store owners, and proprietors of agencies and hotels.
According to Campos, one of the biggest complaints during the last Carnival Season had to do with bad taxi service.
Campos said that the training program will also be helpful for the 2007 Pan-American Games. The Ministry wants to do a good job to make the event mesh with the city’s tourist attractions.
“Rio de Janeiro is already a big drawing point. It continues to be the Brazilian city most visited by foreign tourists. Moreover, in every survey foreign tourists say they want to come back,” she affirms.
At the end of last year, Brazil’s Minister of Tourism, Walfrido Mares Guia, reiterated the special attention his ministry has been paying to Rio de Janeiro, which he called “Brazil’s greatest international tourist attraction.”
At the opening, October 21, of the 32nd National Tourism Congress of the Brazilian Association of Travel Agencies (Abav), the Minister recalled that 38% of the foreign tourists who visit the country go through Rio de Janeiro and 97% of them say they want to return.
The security problem, touted by the London press in a criticism of Brazil, is mentioned by only 8% of the tourists polled in a recent study on the problems of tourism in the state of Rio, Mares Guia pointed out.
For international visitors who come to Rio de Janeiro, the priorities are improving traffic signs, training employees in tourist establishments, and improving taxi services, to eliminate the abuses that occur in the busy season.
The Minister assured, as did President Lula at the inauguration of the Abav Congress, that the intention is not to minimize any of the problems.
“We want to deal with all of them, but we also want to display the beauty of Rio to Brazil and to the world. And it is unparalleled,” he affirmed.
Mares Guia said that Rio can already boast the renovation of the Tom Jobim International Airport, as well as an “extraordinary” hotel network, “to say nothing of the natural charms.”
In the Minister’s opinion, what Rio needs is investment in promotion, marketing, and sales support.
The Minister announced at the Congress that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had authorized a 60% increase in the federal government’s tourism budget for 2005.
“The Ministry’s basic budget will rise to US$ 135.9 million (R$ 388 million), as against 79.9 million (R$ 228 million) this year,” he revealed.
The Minister informed that this year’s priorities will be promotion, infrastructure development, and the training of personnel.
Mares Guia explained that the current economic situation favors the development of tourism, which, in global terms, is growing twice as fast as the basic economy.
At the opening of the Congress, President Lula declared that tourism is the most effective and least expensive way to bring about social inclusion.
“It is an activity that can generate work for millions of adolescents. Tourism is the tool to restore hope to these people,” he said.
According to the President, the problem that keeps foreign tourists away from Brazil is the negative image the country has abroad.
“These facts cannot occur, and they do nothing to help tourism. It is necessary to know how to deal with them. We have to expose the problems, but without affecting the country’s essence,” he emphasized.
The government plans to allot US$ 80 million to the Ministry of Tourism to develop policies in this area. Lula underscored that one of the ways these funds will be applied will be in the preservation of historical monuments.