Brazil to promote products, services at TravelMart

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NEW YORK -- Fortaleza, Brazil, is the host city this year for TravelMart Latin America, the 24th annual in-gathering of 400 buyers and sellers of South and Central American products and services.

Scheduled for Sept. 20 to 23, the centerpiece of the convention is the trade show, which will take place in the Centro de Concencoes do Ceara, one of northeast Brazil's best-equipped convention centers.

On the trade show floor, delegates will find travel companies promoting many of Brazil's new products and services:

The City of Rio de Janeiro Tourism Office (Riotur) will highlight its citywide restorations as well as an increase in hotel rooms and property upgrades, according to Gerard Bourgeaiseau, Rio's secretary of tourism.

Foreign tourism to Rio increased 32.5% in 1999 over the previous year, and hotel occupancy registered 68% last year, Bourgeaiseau said.

Among the hotel happenings with international chains are the following:

  • The 245-room Marriott, the first deluxe hotel to open in Rio in 20 years, is under construction in the Copacabana district and will make its debut the first quarter of 2001.
  • Caesar Park Ipanema, with 186 rooms and 32 suites, spent close to $5 million to renovate its five-star property. Additionally, Caesar Park is planning a new hotel in Rio's Barra de Tijuca district.
  • Sofitel Rio Palace invested $20 million for a top-to-bottom fact-lift since it took over the former Rio Palace in 1996.
  • Improvements include a conversion of its eighth floor and penthouse into an Imperial Club with express check-in, open bar, lounge, veranda and work area.

  • A 200-room Melia Confort Galeao, under construction at the Rio de Janeiro Galeao Airport, is expected to open next spring. It is part of Varig Airlines' new Terminal 2 installation.
  • Outside of Rio, the big hotel news is the opening of Costa do Sauipe, a resort development located 45 miles from Salvador da Bahia.
  • It will be the largest leisure-time development ever in Brazil, including a 324-room SuperClubs Breezes, Marriott and Sofitel (Accor) properties and six Pousadas inn accommodations, for a total of 1,650 rooms.

    Covering 500 acres, the resort will include an 18-hole golf course, equestrian center, 15 tennis courts, a fitness facility and restaurants.

  • Delegates to TravelMart will find that two Brazilian carriers opened their own in-house tour programs.
  • TAM Brazilian Getaways launched an in-house program featuring three- to six-night packages at such leading destinations as Rio, Iguassu Falls, Salvador and Manaus.

    Additionally, the tour selection includes special-interest packages focused on diving, fishing and a six-night honeymoon offering at the SuperClubs at Costa do Sauipe.

    Varig Travel Vacations is the newly formed in-house division of Varig Airlines, whose program covers virtually all regions of the country.

    Tours range from five to nine nights and highlight cultural areas such as Rio and the southern cities of Florianopolis and Blumenau -- centers of strong German heritage; colonial legacy in Recife, Salvador and Ouro Preto, and ecology in the Amazon and Pantanal.

    Vacations are commissionable at 11%.

  • Brazil's two largest cities each opened easy-to-use sightseeing bus programs.
  • Rio has a new tourist bus called City Rio.

    The service, complete with commentary on the passing attractions, offers a one-day ticket ($9) or a two-day ticket ($17) for three different itineraries.

    The Blue Route focuses on history and art in Rio; the Orange Route on Sugar Loaf, Corcovado and the Botanical Garden, and the Purple line on the modern Barra da Tijuca district.

    City Rio buses run every half hour between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.; tickets are available at Rio hotels.

    Sao Paulo introduced a free Cultural Bus Tour with hop-on and hop-off privileges during a circuit that stops at five museums: the Latin American Memorial; State Painting Collection; Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Sacred Art, and Art Museum of Sao Paolo.

    Ticket holders are offered entrance discounts up to 50%.

    The air-conditioned minibuses, with bilingual guides aboard, operates daily except Monday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    Airlines attending TravelMart will be highlighting their new services.

    American Airlines added a flight between Orlando and Sao Paulo, operating four times weekly, with continuing service to Rio de Janeiro.

    Continental opened its hometown Houston gateway for service to Brazil, with daily flights now operating to Sao Paulo and continuing to Belo Horizonte.

    Varig added a second nonstop daily flight between Los Angeles and Sao Paulo; this is a code share with United.

    Additionally, the carrier transferred its operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 at Rio de Janeiro Galeao Airport; joining Varig in the new terminal is Star Alliance partner, United.

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