Q: Can you give me an overview of the health of Brazil’s tourism sector?
A: Brazil is a destination that provides extremely diverse touristic offers, with something for many different tourist profiles, but unfortunately we still only receive 6.6 million international visitors, representing less than 0.5% of all people traveling through the world, a percentage far below our potential. Unfortunately, the travel industry has long been neglected by past governments, so much so that according to the World Economic Forum's tourism competitiveness report, we are ranked 106th for tourism. The World Economic Forum’s report is an excellent indicator of our main challenges.
If we look item by item the issues that Brazil needs to improve, we realise that the current management, under the command of president Jair Bolsonaro, is facing up to these headwinds. We are modernising legislation, streamlining processes, cutting red tape and deregulating the economy to improve the business environment and attract investment to the country.
After more than 30 years we now have a liberal government, with the courage to make the structural reforms that Brazil needs. The country is beginning to regain its credibility. In the first half of this year, for the first time in Brazil's history, the stock market surpassed 100,000 points, tourist activities grew by 3.1% in the country, and more than half a million jobs were created.
Q: How are you making Brazil more accessible?
A: We recently exempted tourists from Australia, Canada, the US and Japan from visas. These countries are top priorities in our strategy of attracting more international tourists. In the more distant markets like China, Russia and Japan, which together account for more than 220 million international tourists, we have outlined a joint promotion strategy with neighbouring countries such as Argentina. With attractions such as sun and beach, a strong culture and gastronomy, integrated itineraries are extremely attractive for long distance visitors.
Q: What are some specific investment opportunities?
A: National Parks are an excellent investment opportunity. For decades they have remained closed, but the current government understands that tourism is an ally of preservation and the best way to promote sustainable development is to attract responsible investors through service concessions at these protected areas. Eco-tourism has grown worldwide and Brazil has been named as one of the world leaders in tourist attractions according to the World Economic Forum's tourism competitiveness report.
This is an extremely opportune moment for investors to look at our country. I am sure that those who make this move will be successful and grow with Brazil. The investment alternatives are varied: we have opportunities in our airports, railways and ports. To give you an idea, the cruise industry had once had 20 ships on our coast in each season. Currently there are only seven. This difference reflects the opportunity we have to grow.
Another segment that could see substantial growth in Brazil is the theme parks sector. We’re the last frontier to be pioneered by this industry, which started in the US, expanded to Europe, then Asia and now only South America is left. Brazil has all the conditions to become a theme park hub. We have a favourable climate and a culture friendly to this type of entertainment and market, so much so that Brazilians are among the main visitors to the Orlando parks in the US.