NEW YORK -- After ending visa requirements for Americans
last year, Brazil is touting its ecological attractions, gastronomy and more in
2020, as it seeks to attract more travelers from the U.S. and elsewhere.
The president of Embratur, the country’s tourism board, was in
New York to discuss Brazil’s promotional strategy as well as efforts to attract
new tourism investment, from airlines to cruise lines to casinos.
With an open-skies agreement between the U.S. and Brazil in
effect since 2018,
attracting new airlift remains a priority.
“We are seeking a direct flight from the East Coast of the
U.S. to the northeast of Brazil,” said Embratur president Gilson Machado Neto.
“We don’t have any flights from New York to Recife or Fortaleza.”
Brazil’s tourism interests are also engaged in early
discussions with casino developers, as the country’s legislature has yet to
legalize casino gambling.
Embratur representatives presented a minute-long video
contrasting well-known aspects of the country’s tourism product, such as its
beaches and Carnaval celebration, with its technological achievements and
inviting travelers to “Visit and Love Us,” as its tagline states.
Although final visitor numbers for 2019 are not yet
available, Machado Neto said he expected arrivals would be slightly up despite
the negative impact that reports on fires in the Amazon had on tourism.
“The Amazon did not burn, as the big media said,” Machado
Neto said. He also decried French President Emmanuel Macron’s tweet about the
fire in August
as “fake news,” saying that Brazil had fewer fires last year than at any time
over the past decade.
Having a positive impact on tourism numbers was Brazil’s
introduction in mid-June of visa-free travel for visitors from the U.S., Canada,
Australia and Japan. Tickets issued to U.S. travelers for Brazil travel rose
39% in the first six months after Brazil lifted visa requirements, according to
Machado Neto said that the country of nearly 210 million
people has the potential to increase those numbers even more.
With about 6 million tourists visiting Brazil annually,
“It’s less than the elevator of the Eiffel Tower,” Machado Neto said.