The city hall of São Paulo, the largest business center in Brazil, wants to convince business tourists to spend one more day in the city. Instead of returning to their cities in a hurry, soon after their meetings.
The idea is to cause them to discover restaurants, theatres, museums and the other tourist routes of the city. For this reason, last month program "Spend one more day in São Paulo" was officially launched. The program includes a detailed guide of the various activities the city offers.
To simplify tourist life, the guide offers specific program options like "A cultural day", "A sophisticated day" or even "An economic day", for those who want to spend without excess. If they manage to convince tourists to spend just one more day in the city, the city halls expectation is that the extra revenues may exceed 1.5 billion reais (US$ 696 million) a year. Nowadays tourism generates 8 billion reais (US$ 3.7 billion).
"São Paulo scares due to its immense size. This enormous variety of programs scares away more than attracts tourists. That is why we have decided to create routes and to give all the coordinates," explained Luciane Leite, tourism director at São Paulo Turismo – an organization connected to the city hall.
The guide, in reality, was released in the middle of the year as an extra catalogue in travel magazine Viagem e Turismo. The strategy was used as a test, as the magazine is distributed throughout Brazil. At the occasion, 150,000 copies were distributed. Now, the guide has been translated into English and Spanish.
According to Luciane, everything is in the guide: from how to move around, how much to spend, where to go, etc. "We have even prepared a series of routes in specific neighborhoods. Instead of trying to visit places all around the city, we have shown that it is possible to learn about São Paulo by exploring neighborhoods like Vila Madalena, Moema and Vila Olímpia, among others. This way, tourists may walk around and feel more at home."
This year, São Paulo established itself as the third most visited destination in Brazil, losing only to Florianópolis (in the South) and Rio de Janeiro (in the Southeast). Last year, the city was the seventh.
"São Paulo is appropriate for business tourism. That we already have. What we now want to show those visiting the city is that it is also possible to have fun here," stated Luciane.
According to São Paulo Turismo, there are almost 300 cinemas, 122 theaters and concert halls, 70 shopping centers, dozens of cultural centers and 12,500 restaurants of 52 nationalities.
São Paulo Turismo has also been working on other fronts to bring more tourism to the city and to receive tourists better. One of the actions is turned to taxi drivers. It is often they who first make contact with visitors.
Apart from training them to receive other Brazilians, knowing more about the city and providing clues about interesting places, 20,000 CDs have been distributed to guide foreigners, with versions in German, Japanese, Chinese, French, English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.
There are two volumes: the first welcomes the tourist and provides general information about the city. In the second, the tourist hears clues about cultural routes.
Another interesting project is Turismetrô, which includes short routes that may be done on foot in one day. The trip is free, with only the subway ticket being charged, and groups of 25 people are accompanied by guides who are even trained in theater thus, according to Luciane, adding more emotion to the outing.
"There is nothing more boring than a guide with all the information learnt by heart," she recalls. The groups are promoted on Saturdays and Sundays and start at Sé Subway station.
More than announcing what is good in São Paulo, São Paulo Turismo wants to break the bias there is against the city. Without beautiful natural landscapes like Rio de Janeiro and the capitals of northeastern Brazil, the city is ignored by Brazilian and foreign leisure tourists.
To convince tourists that São Paulo has its qualities, São Paulo Turismo teams have been visiting travel agencies throughout Brazil showing material and clues about selling the city to clients.
"There are many things that these agents do not know. That is why we must promote them," explained Luciane. Since last year, 300 agencies have already been visited in 21 Brazilian cities.
"In our promotion on the domestic market we show, for example, that it is possible to see play ‘Phantom of the Opera’ with the same quality as in New York and at a much cheaper cost. And what’s best: in Portuguese," he said.
"We have shown, mainly, that São Paulo is not grey, like people say, but multicolored. There are people from all over Brazil here, from all over the world. There is very much different culture making up this very rich landscape," explained Luciane, who is from the state of Bahia (in the Northeast) and adopted the city as her home."
São Paulo currently receives nine million tourists a year. Of these, 2.5 million are foreign. All of this movement, which includes business, events and leisure, brings to the city approximately 8 billion reais (US$ 3.7 billion) and generates 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The objective, according to São Paulo Turismo, is to increase this volume by 15% each year.
Anba – www.anba.com.br