Its sandy beaches, tropical climes and sprawling metropolises have long ensured Brazil’s status as a foremost travel destination, and now Embratur, the country’s tourist board, is strengthening its focus on Canada’s travel industry in an effort to entice more Canadian visitors.
In an exclusive interview with PAX, Alisson Braga, competitive and market intelligence in tourism coordinator, Embratur, revealed the organization’s interest in what he described as a ‘very significant’ Canadian market for tourism to Brazil, noting its intention to ‘[work] towards bringing the relations between the two countries closer together.’
Although the Market Access Unit that serves the Canadian market and works with Embratur is based in Chicago, the organization is also focused on expanding its presence north of the border; 2016 saw the establishment of the ‘Discover Brazil’ committee in partnership with the Brazilian consulate in Toronto, aimed at creating road shows, webinars, online training and digital content for its website.
With travel between Canada and Brazil having blossomed during the FIFA World Cup in 2014 – partly as a result of the country’s relaxed visa requirements for entry during the tournament – Braga confirmed that part of the tourist board’s current emphasis lay with removing barriers for Canadians interested in visiting.
“Canada is a strategic country with great potential to send tourists to Brazil,” he said. “Therefore, it is definitely [on] our radar – so much that Embratur has been putting a lot of effort to extinguish the visa for Canadians.”
With good reason, too; the relaxed visa rules also came into play during the Olympic Games in 2016, and saw a significant upsurge in travel between the designated countries and Brazil.
“During the Olympic Games, that was temporarily accomplished, and the result was an increase of 55.31 per cent in the number of visitors from the beneficiary countries – USA, Canada, Japan and Australia,” Braga added.
Alisson Braga, competitive and market intelligence in tourism coordinator, Embratur
Canada, for its part, accounted for 78,531 visitors to Brazil in 2014, also surpassing the 70,000 mark last year – with Braga anticipating further growth in future travel between the two countries.
There’s more good news, meanwhile, for Canadians wary of the current lengthy process to obtain a visa for travel to Brazil: starting in early 2018, it’s set to be issued online, rather than through a visit to the Brazilian consulate.
Diverse and vibrant
Although the country is perhaps best known for its carnival atmosphere, famous beaches and spectacular weather, Braga emphasized its suitability for a wide range of travel styles and experiences. “We offer products designed for honeymooners, families, solo travellers, seniors, businesspeople, backpackers… for several purposes,” he remarked.
“The Brazilian Tourism Board has 13 offices spread around the globe encompassing over 20 countries, and when asking the trade what comes first to their mind when they think of Brazil, the frequent response is: diverse and vibrant.”
Not only that; Brazil is also a travel destination for all seasons, according to Braga. “Brazil is perfectly suitable as a year-round destination, and there is plenty to do throughout the year in many different regions of the country,” he said.
Iguaçu Falls straddle the border of the Brazilian state of Paraná.
“The Northeast Region boasts good weather all year long (especially all-inclusive resorts); the South Region offers great tourism products during both high and low temperatures [with] gorgeous beaches and islands [and] theme parks – Beto Carrero, Snowland, among others.
“The Southeast Region is highly considered for the MICE segment, as well as culture,” he continued. “Such segments do not exactly rely on perfect weather to take place. The Midwest Region normally experiences pleasant weather all year, and is famous for the Pantanal area, [with] Bonito as a role model in terms of sustainability. It all depends on the kind of experience the traveller wishes.”
On the horizon in 2018
The tourist board’s focus on increasing its exposure in the Canadian market is little surprise, considering the busy calendar of events that’s already in store for 2018. In addition to its iconic Carnival – a world-renowned explosion of colour and noise that takes place to mark the beginning of Lent – the country is also readying itself for the Parintins Festival in June, Oktoberfest in October, and a range of significant religious celebrations.
Most noteworthy in 2018, though, is the special events season planned for Rio de Janeiro, entitled Rio de Janeiro a Janeiro (‘Rio from January to January’ a clever play on the city’s full name), representing part of the federal government’s project to spur the economy through tourism.
“The calendar is filled with cultural, sports and business events,” Braga said of the Rio festivities, “starting on the next New Year’s Party and going all year long, with a diversity of events such as Rio Open ATP, Rio Montreux Jazz Festival, Campus Party, Rio’s Design Week, and many others that are still in the approval process.”
The 'Rio de Janeiro a Janeiro' events season is set to take place in 2018.
Putting minds at ease
Braga also said that despite the prevalence of political instability and civil unrest in international news coverage of Brazil in recent years, the travel community could rest assured that it remained a safe place to visit; a recent survey, he noted, showed that around 88 per cent of international visitors to the country said they would return, with 91.3 per cent of respondents evaluating public safety positively.
While the Brazilian federal government has liaised tirelessly with local bodies to ensure the safety of visitors and locals, he added, travel agents had an important role to play in ensuring that Canadians travelling to Brazil have security and peace of mind.
“We recommend that tourists be mindful of security measures that apply to the major cities in the world,” he commented. “Whenever unsure about a destination, it is wise to contact a travel agent.”