4 elements that stop Brazil from turning into an influence in tourism regardless of its potential
- November 27, 2022
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Some of the elements most associated with Brazil — natural beauties, great cultural diversity, a calendar rich in national and regional festivals — are worth gold in any travel itinerary. But the country’s great potential does not translate into outstanding numbers in the world tourism market. A study analyzed factors that hinder the national development of the area.
The future of tourism in Brazil from the critical analysis of the period 2000-2019 had 23 researchers from 17 Brazilian institutions.
The investigation observes that, even during the international tourism boom of the past decade, Brazil remained at just over 6 million foreign visitors a year.
During this period, the country still had the rare opportunity to host a World Cup and an Olympics in the space of two years, but the growth between 2014 and 2019 was negligible: a slight increase (which can also be seen as stagnation) of 6, 31 million to 6.35 million.
Brazil is not even on the World Tourism Organization’s list of the 50 countries with the most tourist arrivals.
The data refer to 2019, that is, before the arrival of the covid pandemic. Around the world, the sector has suffered heavily from the impacts of the quarantine and is now trying to rehearse a recovery.
For comparison purposes, a single location in Vietnam, Ha Long Bay, received almost the equivalent of Brazil’s total numbers: 6.2 million, according to Euromonitor. Vietnam as a whole accounts for 18 million international travelers annually.
Another example, and a closer one, is Mexico.
With socioeconomic limitations like Brazil, the country has established itself as one of the most important destinations for world tourism, with 45 million foreign tourists.
Mexicans are greatly benefited by proximity to the United States, but they have prioritized the sector in their economic strategy over the last decade, according to a report by the Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Comparisons can be relativized by the specific conditions of the countries, but the Brazilian market, with well-known tourist assets such as Rio de Janeiro and the Iguaçu Falls and dozens of places with great possibilities for development, is clearly below its potential.
This is admitted in a federal government report.
“Brazil is not part of the global tourism routes”, says an analysis carried out by the Special Secretariat for Productivity and Competitiveness, linked to the Ministry of Economy, last year.
The text mentions that “in Brazil, 93% of visitors are local” and “[em 2019] the participation in the GDP was 7.7% and with high employability, but with a stagnant growth”.
The permanence of old problems and the appearance of new ones lead Brazil to fail to take advantage of a sector that could have a considerable positive impact on the economy, on the improvement of services, on the conservation of spaces in cities, among other gains.
For Alexandre Panosso Netto, postgraduate coordinator in Tourism at the University of São Paulo (USP) and one of the authors of the research, this path of development does not become a serious State policy for some reasons.
“The competition from several areas and the misunderstanding of the positive points of tourism as a vector and lever of social inclusion, appreciation of culture and diversification of thoughts and learning”.
“The foreign tourist spent around US$ 110 a day in Brazil until the pandemic. In 2019, it was around US$ 6 billion that foreigners brought to the country. So doubling or tripling the number of visitors would mean doubling or tripling that amount.”
The job market would also benefit from tourism.
“It’s not just financial, the increase in the number of jobs generated and the multiplier effect of tourism would be great.”
Below are some factors that hinder Brazilian tourism from taking off:
1) Bad image abroad
Violence, corruption, a hostile environment for women and the LGBTQ+ public, added to the deterioration in recent years of the country’s image in fields such as the environment and the management of the coronavirus pandemic, do not create a very attractive scenario for tourists to consider Brazil as a destination , says Panosso Netto.
Her study cites an index created by journalists Asher and Lyric Fergusson that ranks the most dangerous countries for women traveling alone. Brazil is listed in second position, behind only South Africa.
The change in the official slogan of Brazilian tourism in 2019 did not help the Brazilian image either. The phrase used for promotion, “Visit and love us” (Visit and love us, in literal translation), was considered of little fluency and unusual construction in English, in addition to sounding with sexual connotations for some foreign tourists.
The researcher also says that the country’s connection to stories involving corruption “influence how national and international tourists see Brazil as a destination. If it is a destination with news of corruption, one can also imagine that it is an unsafe destination”.
He says that countries with problems related to corruption like Mexico and Turkey, but with a large number of visitors, manage to get around the issue due to their proximity to large international consumer markets and the creation of islands of tourist excellence.
2) Lack of continuity in policies and planning
“Specific tourism policies need to be based on an ongoing planning process,” says the study.
For a more sustainable development of the sector, the Ministry of Tourism and Embratur must have great technical quality, with long-term planning.
Panosso Netto cites Bonito, in Mato Grosso do Sul, as an example of a destination that has experienced a process of improvement and development over the years.
“There are great examples of good tourism practices in the interior of Brazil. Bonito, in Mato Grosso do Sul, with its ecological diversity and high-level tourism, is an example of this. But this quality of Bonito was not achieved overnight. It started in the early 1990s. We are therefore talking about more than 30 years of work.”
But problems with environmental conservation derived from deforestation have been impacting ecotourism in the region. The opening of areas for agriculture impacts on the color of its waters, one of Bonito’s great assets. About 70% of the local population depends on tourism.
Tourism policies also include identifying opportunities in different markets, such as Latin America.
“It is necessary to prepare to receive tourists from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, etc. We cannot be turning our backs on Latin America.”
3) Quality of services varies greatly
The lack of greater professionalization on the part of services is something constantly pointed out as problematic. “This is one of the items most criticized by professionals in the sector”, says Panosso Netto.
The researcher thinks that it would also be a way to develop the area of entrepreneurship in the country.
“Tourism is the gateway for many first-time entrepreneurs. We have to turn this into a positive point in our favor. The government can create continuing education programs for tourism, as they have existed in the past, such as the National Tourism Public Policy Manager Training Course.”
Education on how the market works and the service to domestic and international tourists, in addition to effective language learning, would be forms of training.
But there is another structural problem, according to the USP professor: “The difficulty in accessing credit for investing in small tourist ventures is also immense”.
4) Air transport and displacement
According to the survey, although the environment between 2000 and 2019 in the air market “has improved supply and competition on main routes, especially those connecting state capitals and large urban centers, regional access is still expensive and, in most cases, , unsatisfactory”.
For Panosso Netto, “air transport is very expensive due to the price of kerosene and the policy of fuel taxes and airport fees. In addition, road trips are hampered by road conditions; and if the highways are good, the tolls are expensive”.
The continental size of Brazil, which in a way can be an advantage due to the variety of offers, ends up creating a problem due to displacement.
“I believe that regional destinations should unite more to share the tourists that pass through them. In other words, regional tourism management must be strengthened, along with the creation of regional itineraries with high-quality products and services,” says the USP professor.
The study advocates “aligning the regulatory, legal and tax environment that governs Brazilian aviation with the international environment. The evolution that the sector has experienced in these 20 years does not allow us to continue admitting that Brazil has serious differences and distortions between our national rules, which end up generating more expensive offers and products for consumers, and what can be offered abroad”.
Source: BBC News Brazil