4.7 million foreign tourists came to Brazil in 2004, 14% more when compared to 2003. The numbers are from the Annual Research on Tourism Economic Situation, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, Brazilian Tourism Corporation (Embratur), and the Getúlio Vargas Foundation.
International trips generated 3.2 billion dollars for Brazil, in 2004, according to Brazilian Central Bank. This amount was 30% higher than that registered in 2003. The Tourism Account balance was positive in 2004, reaching US$351 million, 61% more than in 2003, when it reached US$218 million.
This was the second year of positive balances after over a decade with negative results in the Tourism Account (the difference between what Brazilians spend abroad and what foreign tourists consume in Brazil).
The Ministry of Tourism is conducting surveys in international markets to define the preferences of foreign tourists and to find out what they expect from Brazil.
Maria Luisa Campos, secretary of the Ministry’s Tourism Development Program, explained that this is one of the chief items in the policy of promoting Brazil abroad. According to the secretary, the strategy involves working with "business know-how" to provide exactly what tourists desire.
She cited another example: Japanese tourists like to visit hot springs and fishing spots and buy simple souvenirs in a variety of locations.
"It makes no sense to offer travel packages to Japonese tourists for them to be cooped up for 15 days in the jungle. They want to visit a lot of places and have a variety of experiences. We are figuring this out more and more," she affirms.
Another strategy adopted by the Ministry of Tourism has to do with extending the stay of tourists in Brazil. According to Campos, there will be an effort to stimulate tourism connected with local economic activities.
She cited the case of tourists who visit gold and semi-precious gem mines in the state of Minas Gerais and then proceed to Rio de Janeiro, where they can go to Ipanema and visit the country’s largest jewel museums, Amsterdam Sauer and H. Stern.
"The possibility of tourists traveling to Minas Gerais and then to Rio de Janeiro means that they will stay another day in Brazil. This represents a big effort. We are developing projects thoughout Brazil, and they will be reinforced this year in Rio de Janeiro," she affirms.