Why does Brazil’s tourism market still perform badly?

Brazil is a huge country, one of the biggest of the world. Its seaside measures over 7,400 km and two worldwide famous cities are located there: Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. On the top of that, Brazil recently hosted two of the biggest events in the world: the Football World Cup and the Olympic Games. However even boasting some impressive figures, locations and events, Brazil still receives very few foreigner tourists. According to Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism, this number was 6.6 mi in 2016. Meanwhile, over 80 mi tourists went to France in 2015 as reported by the Tourism World Organization.

I have always tried to understand the reasons behind this lacklustre performance. At the beaches of south of Brazil, many Argentinians can be seen along with foreigners from different nationalities strolling on Rio de Janeiro beaches or having a wander in Pelourinho, in Salvador. Other than that, it seems that Brazil’s touristic potential is poorly used. A few days ago, Exame magazine featured an article trying to explain the low number of international tourists in the country.

One of the reasons pointed out by the magazine and which I agree with is the country’s bad image abroad. Brazil is seemed as an extremely violent country where murders and kidnappings are rife. Living in London for many years and being a reader of many local news outlets, I couldn’t agree more with that. Obviously, many tourists don’t want to put their own lives at risk. From my own observation, to fly to Brazil is expensive too. Checking flights, for example, from London to Bangkok or Cape Town, I always notice that they are cheaper when compared to flights to Rio de Janeiro.  Besides, there aren’t low cost airlines operating in Brazil, so traveling around a country with continental dimensions ends up being utterly expensive.

Other reasons can be added such as the lack of infrastructure _ railway transportation between cities is nearly non-existent and the ports are poor, keeping many cruise ships away of its coast _, and the fact that Brazil has a population manly monolingual with very few people speaking a second language. Bureaucracy in Brazil is also something difficult to deal with. Let alone taxation. An entrepreneur planning to open up a bed & breakfast for example will have to go through lots of paperwork and pay several different taxes, making the business highly costly.

Despite of all the problems, the country has the potential and perhaps there are some brave entrepreneurs out there up for a challenging and thriving market!

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