The sun and beautiful Brazilian beaches are not the main destinations in the country sought out by the Arab tourists. Business and nature in the Amazon and Foz do Iguaçu, in the southern state of Paraná, for example, come in first place in the preferences ranking.
The information is from a study made recently by the Ministry of Tourism with Arab operators. “The research will serve as basis for us to present products and services according to the Arab taste,” states Sidney Alves Costa, head of office in the ministry.
The study was made after the federal government and Brazilian companies’ participation at a fair in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, in May this year. Four companies and three organisations, amongst them the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB) participated at the event.
“At the occasion we observed that Brazil needed to present differentiated products to the Arabs and so we went after this information with the operators,” explains Costa. The result was surprising.
According to information in the report, the Arab tourist is very interested in the city of São Paulo. “It is amazing, but the Arabs want to see the city. They know that São Paulo has huge economic potential, that it is the financial center of South America,” states Costa.
“The impression we have is that the Arabs would like to come to São Paulo first, for the so-called business tourism, participate in fairs, etc, stay a few days, and then go out on a holiday around the country with the family,” says André Behara, executive at the tourism company Nascimento Turismo, which participated at the Dubai fair.
And the journey around Brazil wouldn’t be to see the beaches, as happens to most European and American tourists. In spite of Rio de Janeiro being in foreigner’s fantasies, the study showed that Arabs have a preference for eco-tourism.
“For this reason, destinations such as the Amazon forest, the pantanal, Foz do Iguaçu, Bonito, in Mato Grosso (state in the Midwest of Brazil) and the Lençóis Maranhenses (in the Northeast), ought to be well explored by the Brazilian operators. Good acceptance is ensured,” states Costa.
Those working with these tourist destinations are starting to see the first results. Nascimento Turismo, for example, set a deal for a group of 200 Lebanese tourists to visit the country yet this year. The Amazon is part of the itinerary. “Next year there will be 500 people, but we still haven’t settled the destinations,” states Behara.
“The aim is that, after the Emirates flight starts operating the number increases to 800 Arab tourists per year,” adds the executive. Emirates Airlines is set to start its flight to Brazil between the end of this year and the beginning of 2006.
Another company investing in the Arab market is Ariaú Towers, from the Amazon, the greatest jungle hotel in the world. The group has taken objective measures in the Arab world, and was between the participants at the Dubai fair. The hotel has received eight committees from the region. This year, the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, was one of the guests at the Ariaú.
“The Arab tourist knows nothing about the Amazon reality, the great forest, the great river, and is fascinated when he sees all this splendour,” says José Ribamar, advisor at the Ariaú. To host the Arabs, the hotel has trained professionals, who know the culture. “We have even learned their means of negotiating,” he says.
The hotel strategy is to get in touch with Arab consulates to know about the missions coming to Brazil. After that, make contact with the representatives to place the Amazon in the route to be covered by the committee.
The study also showed some particularities of the Arab tourists in relation to the Europeans. Their stay is longer than that of other foreigners. According to Behara this happens due to the distance.
“They never come to stay a week, ten days, it is always more than 15 days,” he states. The Arabs also spend more, starting by the choice of hotel. “Always high standard hotels,” he adds.
The Ministry of Tourism disclosed the sector’s figures Tuesday, August 9. In the first semester this year, there were 20,072,579 landings registered – an increase in 18.6% in relation to the first six months in 2004. There are 39.8 million passengers for the 12 months accumulated value. An historical record.
Landings from international flights for 30 consecutive months show an increase. In the first six months of the year alone, the number of landings totalled 3,341,485: the increase was of 15.4% in relation to the same period last year.
Ariaú – www.ariau.com.br
Nascimento Turismo – www.nascimentoturismo.com.br
Anba – www.anba.com.br