Foreign visitors to Brazil last year left an estimated US$ 4.3 billion, up 11.77% over 2005, in spite the number actually dropped and the recurrent air traffic problems in Brazilian skies. Last year, according to Brazil's Tourist Board Embratur, the number of foreign tourists reached just over five million, which is 6.3% less that the 5.36 million of 2005, but "foreigners spent more money, remained longer and visited more destinations in the same trip."
Embratur's Research manager José Francisco de Salles Lopes said that the main reason behind the reduction in the number of tourists was the transitory suspension, since July 2006, of until then Brazil's flag carrier Varig which ended bankrupt and was the airline with the highest international flights penetration in the Brazilian market.
"Varig was forced to cut 1.2 million international flights seats because of its financial shortcomings. At the end the other companies came up with an additional 722.000 seats but the deficit or loss of capacity was in the range of 480.000 seats", said Salles Lopez.
On the other hand problems with the Brazilian civil aviation, the chaotic situation generated by repeated work stoppages from air controllers and insufficient airport infrastructure helped to almost collapse the system beginning October 2006.
Of the total number of foreign visitors, 1.97 million came from Europe which remained for the third consecutive year as the main tourist contributor, followed by South America's 1.8 million, which until 2003 had been the leading source of visitors to Brazil. Considered individually, Argentina leads with 921.000 tourists; United States with 721.663 and Portugal, 312.521.