Ecotourism and national parks are to be a key plank of Brazil’s bid to increase visitor numbers in the coming years.
An agreement signed between the Ministries of Environment and Tourism, the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the Brazilian Institute of Tourism (Embratur) will focus on promotion of nature tourism as a way of conserving protected areas.
Embratur will oversee international promotion of ecotourism destinations as well as studying good practices that can be applied in Brazil and other countries.
Brazil boasts 324 conservation areas covering 9% of its territory. Of these, 72 are national parks totalling about 26 million hectares.
Four national parks already have the partnership established: Iguassu Falls in Parana, the replanted forest of Tijuca and the mountains of Serra dos Orgaos in Rio de Janeiro, plus the Atlantic archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
It’s hoped collaboration will attract visitors to new areas of Brazil, as the country’s tourism numbers have remained largely stagnant in the past few years.
Brazil saw 6.6 million visitors in 2017, just surpassing the 2016 total of 6.5 million, when the Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, and 2014’s 6.4 million, when the World Cup was held there.
Tete Bezerra, Embratur president, said the country’s conservation areas had seen a 20% increase in visitor numbers in 2017. She added: “Brazil occupies the leading position in the World Travel and Tourism Council’s ranking for natural resources and national parks.
The diversity of attractions these areas offer can have a positive impact on continuing to increase visitor numbers.”
Brazil enters 2019 with new flight options from Europe, including the strong prospect of a budget service from London from Norwegian Air.
Bezerra confirmed Norwegian had been authorized by Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency to operate in the country, initially for routes to Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro “or possibly Ceara” in the north east, with state capital Fortaleza the most likely gateway there.
“The entry of companies with low-cost fares is fundamental to develop tourism in Brazil as it makes travel more affordable for everyone,” she said.
Fortaleza became a new entry point from Europe with the start of flights in May from KLM and Air France subsidiary Joon. Bezerra said it was “likely” that Air Europa would announce a service to the city from Madrid in 2019.