Vinicius Lummertz, Brazil’s state minister for tourism, talks to Ramy Salameh about brand Brazil, its recent sporting event legacy, the future of the MICE sector and the nation’s continued destination appeal.
Brazil’s use of events (FIFA World Cup/Summer Olympics) has been the single most important way to re-position the destination’s profile internationally. How do you continue to use the legacy of these mega-sporting festivals to drive the future of international tourism and MICE business to Brazil?
Majorevents have definitely paid off on the tourism attractiveness of the country. In 2016, we had an increase in visitor numbers of 4.6% compared to the previous year and a visitor record of 6.6m. Brazil has benefitted from ample exposure to the outside world and the building of both basic and tourism infrastructure. The eyes of 5bn spectators from all over the world were on Brazil during Rio 2016.
Hosting major events definitely helped to increase the international awareness of Brazil in many sectors, including the meeings and congresses segment. The whole tourism Industry benefited. Besides improving the perception of Brazil and increasing awareness of the diversity of the Brazilian people, the success of the large events we have held, culminating with the Olympic Games, helped to increase the influence that tourism has on Brazil’s economic development.
The infrastructure built for the events was vital for improving the reception given to tourists in Brazil, particularly in terms of airports, urban mobility, tourism signage and qualified personnel. This remains as a legacy for both locals and tourists.
What are the key challenges and opportunities for Brazil’s tourism industry, if it is aiming to double the number of visitors and triple the revenue generated by it in 2022?
Brazil is ranked 27th in the Competitive Travel and Tourism Ranking. The study, released by the World Economic Forum, looks at 14 dimensions of tourism and compares 136 countries. According to this study, Brazil is the first in the world in terms of natural resources and the 8th in culture.
According to a survey from the tourism ministry, the number one item that was appreciated by international tourists during the World Cup was the warmth of the Brazilian people. We are open-minded and want to reach out. There is a freshness in Brazil of attitudes and optimism that make us unique. We’ll definitely count on all that to reach the numbers expected by 2022.
The Brazilian Tourism Board is also fighting for internal changes that will contribute to the achievement of the numbers. The idea is the transformation of Embratur into an autonomous social service. This is fundamental for the country’s better performance abroad and will give more agility in the closure of partnerships with private initiative, for example. The objective of the project is to attract more visitors and, with this, to strengthen the tourism sector and, consequently, to restructure the Brazilian economy.
At the national level, besides generating employment and income, it will contribute to the economic and social development of the country by promoting and supporting the commercialisation of Brazilian tourism abroad. In an international context, with more resources, it will be possible to invest better in marketing actions, there will be greater participation in events in the sector, better relationship with the press, travel agents and tour operators that commercialise the destination Brazil, as well as better relationship with the audience, who is the tourist.
What of the new tourism Bill and any new measures to support and enhance the MICE sector?
The MICE sector is a key sector for Brazil, since it is the second segment that contributes most to the international flow of visitors to the country, just after leisure.
Since 2003, when Embratur started to dedicate itself exclusively to the promotion of Brazil as a tourist destination abroad, the number of conventions rose 294%, from 62 to 244 events in total. In the same period, the number of cities that hosted this type of event rose from 22 to 45.
Brazil remains in first place for receiving the most events among the Latin American countries, according to the latest ICCA rankings.
In 2016, Embratur carried out 31 actions to support the capture of events to Brazil. As a result of this effort, more than 26,000 people should attend meetings in the country until 2025. This support policy seeks to encourage Brazilian cities to apply for hosting global meetings.
Why should MICE planners consider Brazil for their events?
Everyone wants to be in Brazil.
When it comes to congresses and meetings, Brazil is the ideal place to choose as nowhere else may gather such good infrastructure, cutting edge scientific research, unexplored natural potential for medicines and, also, the ability to have fun. Brazilians sure know how to enjoy life and to entertain their guests. There are great rhythms, joyful dances, huge parties, delicious food, tasty drinks, fresh fruit and pleasant weather all year round. We dare to say that no other country can mix interesting business opportunities with great fun as Brazil can.
The country’s infrastructure has been revamped to host the world’s largest sport events. Brand new airports, bypasses, BRTs and subway lines connect tourists to top-ranking hotels and resorts, upscale restaurants and convention centres.
Brazil is also a great market for tradeshows. In 2015, a total of 307 tradeshows under 33 different categories were hosted in Brazil.
What of infrastructure upgrades and transport connectivity improvements?
Aside from the 12 cities that hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2014, most Brazilian state capitals are large urbanised areas with airport access and convention facilities perfectly suitable for hosting an international event. Moreover, as the aforementioned cities do have beautiful beaches, rich nature and/or impressive cultural attractions, most are great options for both meetings and post tours.
Including the FIFA World Cup host cities from 2014 there are 39 destinations on Embratur’s suggested list to choose from for post and pre-event tours in Brazil.
The Brazilian Luxury Tourism Association recently held a road show in Europe for members to showcase their products. How else are you marketing your MICE facilities in Brazil?
The tourism fairs are one of the main tools to promote the potential of Brazilian tourism abroad.
Embratur also shares content in their social channels such as Visit Brasil website, Facebook, Instagram and You Tube. Digital influencers are now playing a big role in the way we are promoting Brazil Internationally.
In addition, we have been doing intense work focused on tour operators aiming to increase the number of operators that are qualified to commercialise Brazil with excellence. This includes activities such as workshops, roadshows and online trainings.
WTM Latin America which usually attracts more than 600 exhibitors from more than 50 countries held its sixth edition 3-5 April 2018 at the Expo Center Norte, San Paolo.
For Embratur, the fair is an important marketing platform, as well as an opportunity to strengthen ties with the main associations and participants of the travel and tourism industry around the world.
In 2018, about 100 buyers from 21 countries visited via the hosted buyer programme.