Feeling Rich, Brazilians Go on Spending Spree Overseas

Brazilian tourist in Paris The decreasing dollar value and the country's rising income, in spite of the recent increase in the inflation rate, are leading Brazilians to spend more in foreign countries. On the other hand, the number of foreigners visiting Brazil has remained stable for three years – 5 million – according to the Brazilian Tourism Institute (Embratur).

The rise in the amount of money spent by visitors is a result of the depreciation of the dollar against the real. "Even though the value of the dollar is not favorable to us, we are not losing a substantial number of tourists, and we have the advantage of receiving tourists of a higher-level, who spend more and stay longer in the country," stated the director for Studies and Research at Embratur, José Francisco de Salles Lopes.

The director of international affairs at the Brazilian Travel Agency Association (Abav), Leonel Rossi, claims that with the dollar at a lower value compared with the real, the number of "low-income" foreign tourists – who used to purchase tourist packages with chartered flights to the North and Northeast – has decreased, but the reduction was not "very high."

Rossi is expecting growth of 10% in the number of foreign tourists in Brazil this year. "There needs to be greater advertisement for Brazil abroad," he said.

As expenditures by Brazilians in foreign countries grew at a lower rate than those of foreigners in Brazil, the international travel account posted the most significant negative result in the 12-month period ending in June this year.

According to the Central Bank of Brazil, which began keeping track of the historical series in 1947, the travel deficit reached US$ 4.833 billion. In a 12-month period, travel account revenues reached US$ 5.416 billion and expenditures by Brazilians abroad totaled US$ 10.250 billion.

The Central Bank's figures show that spending by Brazilians in foreign countries has been on the rise for some years now. From 2004 to 2005, expenditures went from US$ 2.871 billion to US$ 4.790 billion, growth of 39.1%. In 2006, the figure continued to grow – US$ 5.764 billion – and totaled US$ 8.111 billion.

"First off, the country's economy is doing well, the people are more confident about their wages and jobs and, when that happens, people have more money for tourism and leisure. The other factor is the dollar," explained Rossi. According to him, three and a half years ago, a US$ 1,000 ticket cost 3,300 Brazilian reais. Now, that same ticket costs approximately 1,600 reais.

Revenues (expenses by foreigners in Brazil) are also rising, but at a lower rate. In 2004, the value reached US$ 3.222 billion, and continued to increase until it reached US$ 4.953 billion, in late 2007.

To the director at Embratur, in spite of the deficit, there are some positive aspects. "The balance of tourism payments is rising exponentially. And there is a share of expenses by Brazilians that stays in the country – with the airlines, travel agents and tourist operators. This money that remains in the country is very important to the economy," he asserted.

ABr

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