Ilhabela, an island off the coast of São Paulo state, 217 kilometers away from the capital, wants to show the world its beauty, and take advantage of its strategic position between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to attract tourists who will come to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup matches.
The island is one of 65 destinations chosen by the Ministry of Tourism to undergo improvement for the Cup. It will receive investment of 17 million Brazilian reais (US$ 9.5 million) over the next four years.
The sum will be allocated to urban and nautical infrastructure works, such as the building of three berths, sanitation works, the building of an international tourist terminal, and training actions. The city hall estimates that tourists should spend 5 million reais (US$ 2.8 million) in the island during the 30 days of the tournament.
According to the municipal secretary of Tourism and Development of Ilhabela, Djane Vitoriano, investment of 780,000 reais (US$ 439,000), granted by the Ministry of Tourism, is already taking place, and another 220,000 reais (US$ 124,000) have been allocated by the city hall for restructuring and expanding the local tourist wharf.
Furthermore, 6 million reais (US$ 3.3 million) should be invested to build a pier with capacity for four ships. “We are looking for public and private partnerships to provide structure for tourism in the island, and to meet the growing demand,” she claims.
Another project that will require investment of US$ 3.3 million involves building a park road at the Ilhabela State Park. “It will be the first park road in Brazil with a complete environmental management plan,” says the secretary.
According to her, it will be built through a partnership between the state, the municipality and the federal government. The state and the municipality will invest 5 million reais (US$ 2.8 million), and the Ministry of Tourism, 1 million reais (US$ 563,000).
Another 4.7 million reais (US$ 2.6 million) should be allocated for building a convention center that will host music, dancing and theater festivals and events in general.
The work, which has been tendered and is underway, is also the result of a partnership between the city hall, the state and the federal government.
“We are also working on coastline reurbanization and on promoting courses for training, ecotourism planning, trail organization and interaction with the local culture and way of life,” she claims.
The island has 70 tourist facilities, with 5,000 beds available. In the 2008/2009 cruise season, the financial turnover was 17.5 million reais (US$ 9.8 million), which gives an idea of the importance and economic impact of nautical tourism on the economy of the municipality, which has 27,000 residents.
“The fact that this is an island with an elegant downtown area, featuring stores, bars and restaurants, leads people to seek the place as an escape. They leave their problems back at the continent and come here to ride bicycles, walk, dive, go trekking in the woods,” explains the secretary.”
“Here, tourists can do everything or nothing at all, if they want to surrender to the luxury of idleness. They can simply eat very well and rest in a hammock while gazing at the sights,” she recommends.