Sipping a very cold beer on Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana beach, it is immediately obvious that Brazil has huge potential as a tourist destination. As the city’s young and beautiful strut their stuff under the azure sky, the sea in front of you, and mountains towering behind you, Rio is a picturesque spot. Add weather seemingly sent direct from heaven by Christ the Redeemer himself, who in statue form towers above the city, and Rio should be packed full of gringos (foreigners). Instead Brazil in general remains relatively untapped as a holiday destination.
In 2010, the number of overseas visitors to the country totalled 5.2 million, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. This meant that Brazil did not even feature in the global top 10, and it was dwarfed by world number one France, 76.8 million, and number two, the US, 60 million. There are numerous reasons why Brazil remains off the main holiday map, but perhaps the biggest two are the fact it is rather a long way from Europe and the US, and a perception of high crime levels. Flavio Dino, the president of Embratur, the Brazilian Tourist Board, told the BBC Business website that running a successful 2014 World Cup, and 2016 summer Olympics in Rio, will help to more than double the number of people visiting the country by 2020. (more…)