In many ways, the second decade of the 21st century could be said to belong to Brazil. Classed as one of the BRIC nations – the quartet of rapidly advancing economies that includes Russia, India and China – its increasing growth and muscle is making it a main player on the international stage. More Brazilians than ever before are travelling internationally, and few countries in the world will have as much global exposure as Brazil over the coming three years. The world’s spotlight will shine on the country as it stages the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, and these events present both a golden opportunity to shine, as well as big organisational and social challenges and responsibilities (see box).
Brazil looks like it is on track to meet its target of receiving 7 million international tourists by 2014. Statistics presented by Embratur indicate that there were an estimated 5.7 million visitors to the country in 2012, up from 5.433 million a year earlier, and a record number of visitors. If growth continues in a similar pattern then the longer-term target of attracting 10 million foreign tourists by 2020 could also be realised.
The breakdown of origin of international visitors to Brazil is mainly split among Latin American, European and North American countries. Argentina provides by far the highest number of arrivals – 1.593 million (29.33%), with the USA second with 594,947 visitors (10.95%).
Latin American countries account for nine of the top 20 nations; of these, after Argentina comes Uruguay (with a 4.81% share), Chile (4%), Paraguay (3.55%), Colombia (1.68%), Peru (1.6%), Bolivia (1.57%), Mexico (1.19%) and then Venezuela (1.05%).
Germany provides most visitors from Europe (241,739; a 4.45% share, the fourth-highest country of origin overall in the top 20), followed by Italy (4.22%), France (3.83%), Spain (3.5%), Portugal (3.38%) and the UK (2.75%), Netherlands (1.33%) and Switzerland (1.21%).Japan is the only Asian nation to feature in the top 20, ranked 19th with 63,247 (1.16%).
Business versus leisure
Leisure is the primary reason for most visitors who come to Brazil (see chart), although the country continues to grow in importance for business and events travel. The purpose of trip is a significant factor on which regions of Brazil are visited. According to the Embratur, of leisure visitors to Brazil in 2011, 62.1% came for ‘sun and sand’, 24.6% for ecotourism, and 9.4% for culture.
Together, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro account for more than 45% of areas visited by international tourists, followed by Santa Catarina, Parana and Bahia. But among visitors who come to Brazil for leisure purposes, the order of locations visited in terms of numbers switches to Santa Catarina, Rio de Janeiro, Paraná, São Paulo and Bahia.
The most visited cities by all international visitors are, in order, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçu, Florianópolis and Salvador, but among leisure tourists only the order changes to Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçu, Florianópolis, São Paulo, Salvador and Balneário Camboriú.
Tourists from Europe and North America spend almost three times per capita more in total than those from South America on visits to Brazil. This is partly due to the variance in average lengths of stay: Europeans’ average trips are 24.7 days, North Americans 20.6 days, and South Americans 10.9 days.
The Embratur report also looks at Brazil’s stock as a destination for international events, which continues to rise. In 2011, a growth of 10% in the number of international events held helped the country climb two places in the ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) rankings, from 9th to 7th, and was the only Latin American country in the top 10. Rio de Janeiro topped the rankings of number of conventions held by
Brazilian cities, followed by São Paulo, Salvador, Brasília and Florianópolis, and was placed 27th in terms of world cities – above the likes of Zurich, Melbourne and Oslo.
Data supplied by Embratur; origin of international tourists data supplied by Embratur and the Federal Police Department and Ministry of Tourism.