Brazil is not only a large country (over 8.5 million square km, almost the same size as the U.S.) but is also largely known around the globe. Foreigners are familiar with many things Brazilian — the flamboyant Carnival, the passion for football, and the Amazon, just to mention a few.
Yet the Brazilian government is convinced that the country has a much greater tourist potential than what current statistics might suggest. Although Brazil attracts millions of visitors per year and is one of the continent’s top destinations, government officials say that they aim at doubling the number of arrivals by 2020.
Of course, that will require innovation and investment on the country’s part. New measures are already being taken to encourage foreign tourism on several levels — from visa policies to infrastructure.
Thanks to this article, you will learn about:
- Tourism in Brazil in statistics
- The government’s plan for the future of tourism
- Steps that have been already taken to make traveling to Brazil easier and more attractive to foreign travelers.
How Many Tourists Visit Brazil Each Year?
In 2018, over 6.5 million tourists visited Brazil. This places Brazil second in the list of most visited countries in South America (Argentina being the most popular destination) and the third tourist location in Latin America after Mexico and Argentina. After the 2008 economic crisis, the sector recovered quite quickly with revenues reaching almost 6 billion dollars in 2015.
Most foreign travelers come from Argentina but the U.S. follows suit with half a million visitors in 2015. Other countries whose citizens visit Brazil in great volumes include European nations like Portugal, France, Germany, and Italy as well as Latin countries like Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Domestic tourism is also very strong with Brazilian domestic visitors spending 5 times more than foreigners while on vacation.
What Is the Most Visited Place in Brazil?
The most popular Brazilian attractions with international travelers are areas of natural interest. A vacation in Brazil is, for most, a chance to spend time outdoors for leisure and recreational activities mixed with adventure travel.
Nature lovers can expect to find idyllic white beaches, stunning waterfalls, red-rock canyons, and tropical islands. It’s not by chance that the country boasts the highest variety of plant and animal species in the world. At the same time, Brazil combines the charm of old colonial towns with the buzz of the metropolises.
Some of the most visited locations in Brazil are:
- The Amazon Rainforest
- The Northeast region with its dunes and beaches
- The Pantanal in the Center-West region
- The beaches in Rio de Janeiro and Santa Caterina
- Minas Gerais
- São Paolo city
When it comes to revenues from tourism, São Paolo and Bahia are the highest-earning states with 16.4% and 11.7% respectively.
The Future of Tourism in Brazil
The Brazilian Minister for Tourism Marcelo Álvaro Antônio told the media in November 2019 that the government intends to double the number of tourists choosing Brazil as their holiday destination by 2020. This is, of course, an ambitious target that the country intends to reach by making it easier to enter the country for tourists as well as encouraging foreign and private investment.
The President of the federally-funded Brazilian Tourist Board (Embratur) Machado Neto added that the country is changing the way it presents itself to the world and that more “focus (should be given) to natural resources”.
The Tourism Ministry intends to spend as much as $198 million in efforts to boost tourism. A great part of this budget will go into financing small businesses and programs operating on business tourism routes.
Finally, new plane and cruise infrastructures and service improvements are being planned — the launch of direct flights between Australia and Brazil being a great example of how the country intends to become better connected.
Tourism in Brazil Is Already Changing
Measures are already being implemented to attract international travelers. Brazil has made great efforts to open itself to the world, making it easier for foreigners to realize their Brazilian holiday dream.
The process of obtaining a tourist visa for Brazil, for example, has long been expensive and time-consuming. The new visa policies make it much easier for foreign citizens to enter the country. Holders of passports issued by certain countries (like Japan, Australia, and the U.S.) can even travel visa-free for stays of up to 90 days. Arrivals from these countries have already increased by 25% year-over-year since the measure has been put into place.
Visa requirements are also on the way of being relaxed for India and China, Singapore, and Vietnam. Since the details of this new policy have not been released yet, it’s still unclear whether citizens from the aforementioned countries will enjoy visa-free status or will need to apply for an electronic visa for Brazil.
Meanwhile, the Bolsonaro administration has taken serious steps to facilitate foreign investment. For example, the government has recently opened the airline market: foreign entities can now own up to 100% of Brazilian airlines. Four companies so far have been given operating approval, including:
- Sky Airline and Jetsmart (Chile)
- Air (Norway)
- Flybondi (Argentina)