Since the creation of Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism in 2003, sector revenue has practically doubled and is expected to reach US$ 4 billion this year, reports Minister Walfrido dos Mares Guia. Compare this to US$ 3.2 billion last year.
And as the sector is labor-intensive, that is good news; the Minister says that direct and indirect employment in the sector in 2005 is over 300,000.
Mares Guia says Brazil has won a place on the world tourism map. And that was possible because the government made tourism a state policy priority, he says.
The Minister reports that the government established a four-year plan under which there would be 1.2 million jobs in the tourism sector by the year 2007 and revenue of US$ 8 billion. "I think we will exceed those targets," says Mares Guia.
Tourism has become Brazil’s third largest source of foreign currency. In 2004, tourism ended up in sixth place. According to Mares Guia, between January and July of this year only iron ore and soybean exports earned more foreign revenues than the tourism sector, which brought in US$ 2.1 billion altogether.
As recently as October, Mares Guia was saying that the goal for Brazil in 2005 was to attain earnings with tourism of US$ 5.6 billion.
Mares Guia affirmed that precise data on the tourism industry are still lacking, but it accounts for roughly 5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which represents the total wealth generated by the economy.
"We shall have this figure, beginning next year, but the estimate is that it will be around 5% of the GDP, half the world average," he said.
The number of European tourists who came to Brazil in 2004 was greater than the number of Latin American tourists, for the first time. 1.834 million Europeans visited Brazil last year, as against 1.829 million from Latin America. In comparison with 2003, the number of European tourists was up approximately 20%.
"This survey of tourists has existed for three or four decades, and this is the first time we had more Europeans than Latin Americans," affirms Eduardo Sanovicz, president of the Brazilian Tourism Institute (Embratur). The data are published annually.
Sanovicz ascribes the increase to the commercial promotion program begun in 2003 with the National Tourism Plan, when Embratur concentrated on its activities abroad.
He emphasizes the basic job done by the Brazilian Tourism Offices, known as EBTs, established in nine countries since 2003 to promote Brazil as a tourist destination.