According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN), world tourism in 2017 registered a 7% increase compared to 2016. It was the highest increase in the last seven years and exceeded all growth expectations.
Europe recorded the highest growth in international arrivals (8%), which was equal to the African continent. Asia and the Pacific region accounted for 6% more tourists; the Middle East, 5%, and the Americas, 3%. South America drove the increase in tourism on the American continent, with growth of 7%, while Central America and the Caribbean recorded 4% growth and North America just 2%.
The UNWTO is forecasting growth this year of between 3.5% and 4.5% in Europe and the Americas; between 5% and 6% in Asia and the Pacific; between 5% to 7% in Africa; and between 4% and 6% in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism has already considered the 2018 Carnival to be the best of the last five years, with more than 400,000 international tourists arriving in Brazil.
These indicators show that we are on the right track, but we still have many corrections to make in government policies for the tourism industry. Changes are already being introduced and should generate excellent results. Such is the case with the electronic visa that has been introduced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the four countries with the highest demand for entry visas for Brazil.
Issued on the internet anywhere and with a response time of less than 72 hours, the electronic visa is a real opening of our doors to international tourism. For Australians it has been issued since 21 November, while for the Japanese it began on 11 January, for Canadians on the 18 January and for Americans on 25 January.
Together, these four countries account for 60% of the visa applications for Brazil. In the first assessment by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after adopting the system in the United States, there was a 70% increase in visa applications from that country. In the case of Japan, the increase was 26%, Australia 57% and Canada 4%.
The forecast by USTOA, a body that brings together the main tour operators and travel agents in the US, is that there will be a jump in the number of tourists from that country visiting Brazil as a result of the measure, from the current 550,000 a year to more than 1.2 million within three to four years.
The United States is second only to Argentina in the number of its tourists who visit Brazil. But while each Argentinian spends on average US$ 50 a day in the country, Americans spend US$ 73 a day. If the expected growth is confirmed, the annual revenue of US $ 170 million coming from American tourists would jump to more than US $ 1.5 billion.
The next step now, which has already been announced, is the introduction of electronic visas for China. About 130 million Chinese travel annually around the world and just over 50,000 come to Brazil; i.e., huge potential for attracting new tourists to the country.
Alexandre Sampaio, President of the Brazilian Accommodation & Food Federation (FBHA)
Alexandre Sampaio is a businessman with more than 37 years working in the hotel trade in Rio de Janeiro. He is the president of the FBHA and also chairs the Tourism and Hospitality Business Council of the National Trade Confederation of Goods, Services and Tourism (Cetur/CNC), which brings together more than 20 tourism business associated entities and tourism representatives from the State Trade Federations.
Sampaio is also a member of the National Tourism Council of the Ministry of Tourism; coordinator of the Brazilian Committee for Standards in Tourism (CB54), the planning, coordination and control body of tourism-related standards of the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards (ABNT); and vice president of the Rio de Janeiro Hotels, Bars and Restaurants Trade Association (SindRio).
Sampaio has a degree in accounting sciences and served as the president of SindRio between 2002 and 2010, when he became president of the FBHA. He was previously vice president of the Brazilian Hotel Industry Association of Rio de Janeiro (ABIH-RJ) and chief financial officer, legal director and vice president of the Brazilian Hotel Industry Association (ABIH Nacional).