Brazil Travel Agents Press Ahead Beyond the Brazilian Air Chaos

Abav 2006 Over 700 exhibitors are ready to display their novelties in the 35th edition of the Fair of the Americas ABAV 2007, to be held in Brazil in the southeastern Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro from October 24 to October 27. Exhibitors include travel agencies, airlines, maritime companies and government representatives who are willing to show to thousands of travel agents and the general public what is new in the world of tourism. Or what never goes out of style.

According to Carlos Alberto Amorim Ferreira, vice president at the Brazilian Travel Agency Association in Rio de Janeiro (Abav-RJ), the event's main objective, since its inception and especially during the last five years, is to sell Brazil as a destination to both Brazilian and foreign tourists.

This, however, does not prevent travel agencies from showcasing their international packages, or other countries from promoting themselves too. "Approximately 70% of the Brazilian travel agencies dedicate themselves to selling international travel packages to Brazilians," he says.

The 32 foreign exhibitors include two Arabs: Emirates, the airline from the United Arab Emirates, and the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism. However, countries such as Egypt and Morocco are well represented in packages offered by Brazilian agencies. Emirates will participate in the fair for the first time, due to the Dubai-São Paulo flight that the company inaugurated on October 1st.

The Palestinian Ministry, on the other hand, is participating in the fair for the seventh time with its representative in Brazil, Ali El Kathib. Since he started attending the event, Kathib says that the number of Brazilian tourists in Palestine has increased significantly, especially catholic groups that travel to the holy land.

"Brazil is the world's largest catholic country. And we have the best guides to the region," says El Kathib, who has been working since the early 1980s to increase the tourist flow between the two countries. According to him, the Palestinian minister of Tourism, Khouloud Dheibeis, will also come to the fair. She is also the country's minister for Women.

To Ferreira, of the ABAV-RJ, Dubai is one of the great novelties to be showcased at the fair. He believes that curiosity about new destinations is a key aspect for setting the tourist sector in motion.

"Whenever someone hears about a place like Dubai, they go to the agency to know more. They seek information. The trip might be too expensive or too long for them, but the simple fact that the possibility exists leads the person to dream of travelling. In the end, they might purchase another package. The important thing is for us to stimulate people's desire to travel," he concludes.

Ferreira explains that domestic tourism was the sector most affected by the air crisis, which began in the second half of 2006, after an accident involving an aircraft of Brazilian airline Gol in the midwestern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, which killed all 154  on board.

The Northeast was the region that suffered the greatest losses – after all, it is one of the main Brazilian destinations. "The hotel network there is still under the impact," he says. The ABAV believes that in 2008 this scenario should change, and the sector should become heated again.

"For the time being, Brazilians are preferring to travel by car to cities near their own," or to foreign countries. Ferreira explains that after a decrease caused by the 2001 attacks, the United States have once again become the favorite destination for Brazilian tourists, alongside South American countries like Argentina and Chile.

Cruise liner trips should also continue to move full steam along Brazilian seas in 2008. According to estimates, in the 2007-2008 season, a total of 430,000 beds should be offered in 15 different ships in the country.

The first three days of the event will be for professionals only. On the last day, October 27, pavilion number three at the Riocentro, where the fair will be held, will be opened to the general public. The number of visitors expected is similar to that of the last edition, which received more than 22,000 people. The ABAV represents more than 3,000 travel agencies in Brazil.

Brazil still has a long way to go in terms of tourism. Although the potential is great, the figures are still weak. According to the Global Barometer Survey, published by the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the number of foreign tourists that visited Brazil in 2006, a little over 5 million, placed the country in the 37th position in the global ranking of leading tourist destinations last year.

In the accumulated result for the first seven months of 2007, foreign visitors spent a total of US$ 2.834 billion in Brazil, according to data supplied by the Brazilian Central Bank.

For more info:

www.feiradasamericas.com.br
www.abav.com.br

 Anba – www.anba.com.br

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