Brazil Looks to the Olympics for More Tourists

By Akua (Kaye) Adoo

Brazil is one fortunate country to be able to host both the World Cup and the Olympics within two years of each other, but you cannot say the same for Brazil’s tourism industry. Vinícius Lages, Brazil’s tourism minister, is advocating for a better portrayal of Brazil after the 2014 World Cup in preparation for the 2016 Olympics.

While the World Cup, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, brought Brazil more than 1 million foreign visitors and, in U.S. dollars, about $7.5 billion in revenue, it did not prevent the nation’s economic slowdown or highlight much of the country outside of soccer.

Bloomberg Businessweek also reported that Lages is determined to make his mark and use the international sports spotlight to his advantage. The publication also reports that his position is in limbo as his boss, President Dilma Rousseff, is facing intense competition from Marina Silvain in the Oct. 5 national election To enhance Brazil’s tourism brand, Lages’ goal is to play off the World Cup in building buzz for the 2016 Rio Olympics by developing everything from craft-beer tours in Belo Horizonte and food-oriented attractions near the Amazon for international student programs.

The reason for this tourism rebranding comes on the heels of bad publicity during the World Cup from the international press about security, construction delays, and social protests about money wasted on the World Cup instead of development projects. In this video from  BloombergBusinessweek, Lages is quoted as saying, “You do not want to lose a second to bad information, it is important to have assertive public-relations and marketing strategies.”

Protest against the World Cup in Copacabana, Brazil.

Protest against the World Cup in Copacabana, Brazil.

To prevent negative publicity, Lages says it is critical for Brazil to develop a pricing strategy for tickets, transportation and accommodation that’s clear and transparent and will enable Brazilians to get as much out of the Olympic games as foreign visitors. He says Brazilians should enjoy this exposure and explore their country.

Lages has made three trips to China in the hopes of luring more visitors, tour operators, and hotel chains to the 2016 Olympics. “China sent more than 100 million tourists outside its country last year,” he notes in Businessweek, “and Brazil only got about 60,000 of them.” He said in the same Businessweek article that France is a role model in catering to Chinese tourists. “They’ve adapted their ATMs and made it easier to travel there. We need to do more things like that,” he said.

Brazil’s plan to improve its tourism outreach is promising and with the right infrastructure and support in place, the Olympics will showcase the beautiful culture, heritage and scenery of Brazil.

Photograph by Agência Brasil (Protesto contra a Copa do Mundo em Copacabana) licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil license via Wikimedia Commons.

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