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
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
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
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
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
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
Vacations are commissionable at 11%.Brazil's two largest cities each opened easy-to-use sightseeing
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
American Airlines added a flight between Orlando and Sao Paulo,
operating four times weekly, with continuing service to Rio de
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.