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Mar 25, 2015 11:00 AM

500 days: EMBRATUR expects up to 400 thousand foreign visitors at the Games

President of the Brazilian Tourism Board Vicente Neto explains that Goal to Brasil, designed to attract visitors to the country for the World Cup, will once more be put in operation with Olympic and Paralympic athletes taking part

With the goal of publicising Brazil abroad and invite tourists to the World Cup, the Brazilian Tourism Board (EMBRATUR) travelled to 17 countries until last year. The Goal to Brasil campaign will gain a new format focusing on the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Athletes from sports part of the competition programme will take part in the new version of the campaign, which will start at the Pan American Games in Toronto in July.

Brazil expects to attract between 380 and 400 thousand foreign visitors, figure EMBRATUR is trying to increase by taking part in international trade shows, which focus mainly on the Olympic Games.  Another challenge is to get tourists to stay longer in the country, for the Paralympics, for instance.

Read the interview:

Legacy and experience

Brazil chose sport as a platform to showcase itself abroad. Our image abroad has ever more been one of a diverse country, the size of a continent, with hospitable people, innovative, with a wide range of tourist products and destinations to choose from. Having hosted the World Military Games, the Confederations Cup, the World Cup and being able to stage the World Indigenous Games this year, as well as the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year, has placed Brazil on this circuit, which helps us a lot in terms of image. For tourism, having staged the World Cup meant that Brazil’s image was overexposed and we are reaping the results now. We have just taken part in ITB (International Tourism Exchange), the world's biggest tourism trade show and we were able to see how Brazil is in, an object of curiosity throughout the world, thanks to the great exposure we were submitted to.Embratur

World destination for events

We are ranked ninth in ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association), world agency that classifies countries in terms of attracting corporate events. It is a great satisfaction having gone from the 19th to the ninth position in a decade, as well as diversifying where events are held in the national territory. Before, they were concentrated in one or two regions.  We have strived to bring these events over because they ensure that foreign revenues for the country.  At the end of 2013 US$ 6.7 billion were spent in the country, while in 2014, this figure was closer to US$ 7 billion. This ensures the generation of jobs and income. Over eight million Brazilians work in the tourism sector. Business people who build hotels and tourist facilities, as well as the government that induces and fosters the staging of events and construction of infrastructure aimed at developing tourism end up providing important data for the economy. They inject important resources for the country to benefit from this great clean industry called tourism.

Promoting the country abroad

In partnership with the Ministry of Sport we developed a great programme before the World Cup called Goal to Brasil. We travelled to 17 countries and invited them to come to this great, diverse and beautiful country, using the World Cup as a reason. The same programme is going to be put back in operation now so that promotion actions reach these priority markets. We are going to invite tourists to come to the Olympic Games, as well as to visit before and after to get to know what we have to offer, experiencing Brazil, seeing the Brazilian way of living closer, which has mesmerised people throughout the world. Indeed, according to surveys conducted, this is Brazil's main differential in international tourism terms.

Goal to Brasil

We are keeping the name and the idea is to invite Olympic and Paralympic athletes from the past and present to visit Brazil. We are also going to take Brazilian athletes from sports that are part of the Games' programme to these countries to talk about our country. It is a way of making sport and tourism interact, as in the Goal to Brasil endeavour (at the World Cup). As the focus was football, we used footballers. We shall now take athletes from different sports, in partnership with the Ministry of Sport. This process shall start at the Pan American Games in Canada, but we will also conduct actions in Rock in Rio Las Vegas, as the American market in important. It is a country that wins a lot of medals and is interested in taking part in these Games, with the athletes and confederations that will be in Rio de Janeiro and other states, acclimatising.  Therefore, we have two initiatives in the first half of this year that already reflect actions of the new Goal to Brasil.

Beyond Rio

Tourists from all over the world visited Brazilian cities and towns during the World Cup. One million people came to Brazil, visiting over 490 destinations. Today, EMBRATUR is engaged in promotion aimed at the Olympic Games, which involves the whole country. We have just had a national meeting between state tourism secretaries and will conduct joint actions with states, with Rio as the main matrix. We shall conduct actions that will spread throughout the country, so that people come to Rio and from Rio, go to other just as important Brazilian destinations. In a country the size of a continent this kind of diversification is essential. And we have established important partnerships: flights in Brazil have been diversified, the hotel sector is offering important packages for Games time and out of Games time. It is a joint action that intends on involving the whole country.

Profile of foreign visitor

Different from the World Cup, where in addition to the squads you have the fans who got together and make the party even greater, at the Olympic Games the tradition is to have athletes, technical staff and the so-called Olympic family. Therefore, it is not mass tourism, as those following the World Cup around, but there is interest, thus, tourist packages and flows have been measured in previous editions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which provides us with a dimension. In other words, in addition to the Olympic family, we will have a contingent that could add up to between 380 and 400 thousand tourists.  That is the number we are working with, but in addition to that, we expect to increase this figure with actions focused on operators and international press, which are the actions we have been conducted at EMBRATUR's trade shows.

Main countries

When we look at the editions of the previous Games, countries that compete for the top number of medals, like the United States, Canada, Russia and China also attend in bigger numbers, which is different in relation to what happens in specific sports, like football. More Americans came to the World Cup than Canadians. For the Olympic Games this is more balanced. In addition, we have countries from Latin and South America, mainly because of how close they are. Therefore, we expect a different profile of visitors, as a result of where they live.

How long tourists stay

This is one of the main challenges we face: bringing the foreign tourist and making them stay a few more days.  Naturally, this means that more resources are injected into the national economy, ensuring more temporary jobs for a longer period of time in the tourism sector, as well as allowing this tourist to travel around the country. Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games provides this possibility and it is based on this strategy that we have conducted our actions at international tourism events we have taken part in. It is not easy because it means a higher cost for the trip, but that is our goal.

After 2016

Our international action has been guided by the 2016 Games. The Olympic year is not restricted to Games time, inviting international tourists to visit Brazil, using the Games as an excuse, but using the staging of the event as a background for the calendar for the whole year. The northeast is sunny from January to December, ecotourism done in Brazil, in several regions of the country, takes place at any time of the year. In addition, religious tourism has been growing in recent years, as well as tourism related to sport activities, which happen all year round. There is a specific event in a certain period, but we want to fill out the whole year so that hotels continue to be full, restaurants selling, taxi drivers able to rent their work force all year round. The strategy is to spread out the visit of tourists from other countries during the year. At the World Cup, we saw the phenomenon of peak season out of season. The idea is to do the same with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the survey conducted during the World Cup, 95% of visitors who came to the country for the first time said they would like to come back. In order to make them loyal, we have to seduce and invite them, making this tourist come back, talk about the country abroad, telling their friends of the beauties we have to show them.


Like the World Cup, the expectation is to deliver a world class event and thus, ensure that Brazil remains in the limelight at the global level, as a country that presents itself as new, modern and capable of staging international events, as well as looking after domestic tourism.

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Ana Cláudia Felizola –