Tourism in Brazil: could it do better?

On top of the Corcovado, looking down Sugar Loaf

Brazil is the 39th destination on a ranking for international tourists, according to World Tourism Organization (WTO).  The country received 5.1 million visitors in 2010. A shame if compared to other BRICs: China (81 million), Russia (23.7 million) and India (5.3 million).

So the question – could it do better? – has an easy answer. Huge YES. Now, what is the plan?

An article published this week in Jornal Valor concludes that tourism in Brazil is a profitable activity with great potential for growth. Government invested R $ 29.36 per tourist in 2010 and got R $ 1,282.94 in return. Well, is it profitable or is it a lost opportunity? Shouldn’t Brazil do better in terms of tourism?

Most tourists are Brazilians

Brazil had about 55.1 million tourists in 2010. Only 5.1 million were foreigners. Still foreigners are the ones who spend the most: an  R $ 2,044 on average. Brazilians however, account for only R $ 1203. Considering the international tourism, foreigners spend in South Africa the double they do in Brazil, three times in Russia and 13 times more in China.

Wealthier Brazilians travel more (abroad)

The increase in income in Brazil had a huge impact on the number of trips abroad, according to a study of the Conferação Nacional de Serviços (CNS). In the period of 2004-2010 foreigners expenditure in Brazil grew 84%,while expenses of Brazilians abroad rose 471%. The deficit in 2010 was $ 10.5 billion.


Foreign tourists brought around U.S. $ 5.8 billion to Brazil while the U.S. totaled U.S. $ 166 billion in revenue, followed by China (U.S. $ 81 billion), Spain (U.S. $ 70 billion) and France (U.S. $ 68 billion). Also appearing ahead of Brazil are Thailand (U.S. $ 22 billion), Mexico ($ 15 billion) and Portugal ($ 14 billion).

Public investment is target of critics.

Money is spent without prioritizing the main destinations. Sergipe, for example, received $ 80 million of public funds for tourism in 2010 – behind only Ceara, Pernambuco, Bahia and Sao Paulo – but the state does not correspond in attracting tourists.

Luigi Nese, president of CNS, believes that a good strategy for the country attract more foreign tourism, would be to concentrate investment in poles of great attraction. “Money is not necessarily poorly managed, but we sprayed the few resources we have for the entire country, rather than focusing on 15 cities with great potential for tourism and good infrastructure.”

The Ministry of Tourism agrees.

According to the executive secretary, Simon Valdir, the government prepares a plan for projects aligned with the National Tourism Plan. “We organize a database of projects that are strategic to the tourism in Brazil and 65 that focus on key destinations, including all state capitals.”

The parlement finger on tourism budget

Brazilian congress

Two-thirds of federal funds intended for tourism are allocated through parliamentary amendments. The government’s intention is to support projects that receive public money and coordinate them with initiatives made abroad. “We want to know the expectations of the tourist source countries to try to customize our services and attractive that audience,” says Simon.

The most expensive hotels in the world

In front of Copacabana Palace Hotel Site Survey, which operates in the lodging reservations, indicates that in the last year compared to 2010, the city of Rio was the destination with the highest price in the world in five star hotels, with a average tariff of U.S. $ 1,178 per night. (O Globo)
Enrico Torquato, president of the Brazilian Association of Hotels (Abih), explains that several factors contribute to the tariff sector is expensive and uncompetitive with other international destinations. “The tax burden slay our hotel network.

Expensive air tickets and deficient airports

The second major deficiency indicated by the study of CNS in the promotion of international tourism in Brazil is the price of airline tickets. The sector, however, says it has reduced the margin, but you need to pass on increased fuel prices. Over the past two years, the price of kerosene increased by 51.64%.

Congonhas airport in São Paulo is one of the busiest in the country

“The airport infrastructure also does not absorb the demand,” says Jorge Onorio, from the National Union of Air Companies (SNEA). “When the aircrafts are waiting for space on the gangplank, they are consuming fuel with the engine running. This is another reason for the cost increase.”

Published by Hildete Vodopives

Hildete de Moraes Vodopives is founder of Brazil Global and of the Harvard Strategists Group. She has a PhD in Economic History and advises companies and investment agencies in international business development.She served as Corporate Relations Director and later, on the board of the Brazilian Investment Analysts Association (APIMEC).

3 thoughts on “Tourism in Brazil: could it do better?

  1. Sinceramente não acho vergonha o Brasil ter recebido 5,1 milhões de turistas em 2010 e 5,4 milhões de turistas em 2011.

    A Espanha (56-57 milhões de turistas), um destino maduro, recebe um grande fluxo de turistas europeus. Grande parte Turismo de sol e praia. Milhões de ingleses, alemães e franceses, que somados chegam a 31 milhões de turistas.

    O México recebe 22 – 23 milhões de turistas, maioria esmagadora de americanos (18 milhões se eu não estiver enganado). Vão lá porque é barato e é um ótimo destino, boas praias, resorts, gastronomia e riqueza cultural. E mais de 1 milhão de Canadenses. A condição geográfica, econômica, faz muito diferença. Tirando os americanos e canadenses, o México não atrai muitos turistas.

    O grande fluxo da China, também é de países próximos.

    A Austrália que recebeu 5,8 milhões de turistas em 2010, está aumentando o número de turistas chineses. Mas é um país que fica isolado geograficamente, e que enfrenta o problema de boa parte dos orientais não gostarem de praia, não gostam de se bronzear, um fator cultural. Então precisa trabalhar melhor outros segmentos. Os chineses gostam de Turismo de natureza, cultural.

    Na América do Sul , Argentina, Brasil, Uruguai, Chile, Colômbia não tem grandes números de turistas.

    O Brasil recebeu 5,4 M de turistas em 2011. Os argentinos (mais de 1 milhão) que vem para curtir nossas praias, principalmente. E os argentinos que recebem 5,7 M, tem nos brasileiros o maior número de visitantes. O câmbio ajuda (os preços lá já não estão tão baratos como anos atrás), turismo de compras, excursões estudantis… Eles tem um preço competitivo, mas ficam longe de grandes países emissores.

    A Colômbia tem mais de 50 milhões de habitantes, e a maioria faz turismo pelo seu próprio país. Eles tem boas praias, por que eles viriam ao Brasil em grandes números…

    O Peru começou um processo turístico, que resultará um grande aumento de visitantes. A gastronomia peruana está na moda + o fator Machu Picchu.

    Se a Argentina estivesse melhor economicamente, enviaria mais turistas ao Brasil. Estamos longe da Europa, da Ásia, Europa, Oceania…

    Obviamente não esperamos milhões de turistas para o Brasil vindos da Bolivia, Paraguai, entre outros. Até 2020 o Brasil deve receber 10 milhões de turistas ou beirar a isso. O que acho muito bom.

    A Espanha tem uma posição privilegiada, recebe milhões de turistas vindos de países do seu continente. A maioria buscando boas temperaturas, praias para as suas férias, feriados… Só as Ilhas Canárias recebem 10 milhões de turistas, as Baleares também, A maioria de turistas buscando sol, praias.

    O Ecoturismo é um grande segmento, que cresce a cada ano. E o Brasil é o país com a maior biodiversidade. Daqui a algumas décadas, com mudanças de cultura… é possível que o país consiga atrair milhões de turistas, 30, 40 milhões, quem sabe.


  2. Having just left the USA, I know there is a HUGE absence of commercials for Brazil. From what most know in the tourism industry, when you advertise as well as what you advertise is where everyone will go. Which is true about life in general, what you keep in front of you, is where you will go, yes?…

    Brazil has a LOT more to offer than Carnival – yet mention Brazil in the USA, and that is about the only thing they know about Brazil. Many are extremely surprised at the development of Brazil and most do not know Brazil’s economy exceeds the United Kingdom.

    As with any successful advertisement campaign, placing a smorgasbord in front of a prospective visitor will likely find them eating someplace else. Some travelers have an idea of what they want, but not where to go to get it while other travelers already have their decisions made from conversations with people who have already been there, wherever ‘there’ is…

    Compare Brazil to any country you want, but the results speak for themselves – only some of the money is going into Brazil but other countries with a successful awareness program are winning the day with a campaign program that is almost continuously seen everywhere there are a lot of people. The same would go for most of South and Latin America where the U.S. dollar can go a VERY long way…


  3. When it comes to traveling in Brazil choosing a destination can be a difficult task. Brazil is a continental country of rare beauty that provides endless options for adventure and unique experiences. Whether the reason is a beautiful beach, tasty food or interesting history, Brazil is the place to see. The Samba land is one of the best options for those who are seeking a place of pleasant climate and hospitable people. Some say the greatest beauty of Brazil is its people. These virtues make the most of the tourists who come here want to return again


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