Brazil to see summer tourism boost

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Amid political turmoil and an economic recession, Brazil received a bit of good news  — an expected 11-percent increase in tourism.

This year’s summer high season, which in the southern hemisphere runs from December to February, is expected to see 2.4 million foreign visitors, or 11 percent more than the same period last year, according to Tourism Ministry projections.

Most of those visitors are expected to arrive from other parts of the Americas, including neighboring Argentina, Chile and the United States, and spend an average 1,100 U.S. dollars, generating a total of 8.68 billion reals (2.6 billion dollars) in tourism revenue.

Brazil’s most popular destination for foreign tourists is 2016 Olympic Games host Rio de Janeiro, which is expected to receive 32.6 percent of all foreign tourists this summer, followed by the popular beach resort of Florianopolis (18.8 percent), and Iguazu Falls (13.5 percent), one of the world’s most famous waterfalls.

Rio is home to Brazil’s famed Carnival celebrations, which generally take place in February, and which explains its popularity among foreign visitors.

Tourism Minister Marx Beltrao credited the Olympics and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, held in 12 Brazilian cities, with helping to generate interest in Brazil.

“We hosted the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, and showed the world that Brazil’s tourism is prepared to grow,” he said.

Domestic tourism far outstrips international tourism in Brazil, with nationals representing 90 percent of all tourism, and generating an expected 100 million reals (30 million dollars) in revenue this summer, despite a poor economy.

“Even with the crisis Brazil is going through, this summer, domestic travel is to see a one-percent increase compared to the same period last year. That shows Brazilians still want to travel, despite the crisis,” Beltrao said.

“Tourism can be instrumental to generating jobs and boosting the economy,” he said.

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