Vinicius Lummertz, president of Embratur, sought anyway to counter that as he said: “We live in a very unsafe world in general, and that [violence] is the nature of big cities unfortunately.”
He added: “We successfully hosted a series of major international events – the World Cup and the Olympics – but then we faced an economic and political crisis, and media images of Rio were not always positive. All this has been a hindrance to what could have been our heyday.”
The ‘Rio de Janeiro a Janeiro Programme’ will see 100 existing and new culture, sport, tourism and business events take place over the course of a year, with the hope of generating positive interest.
During the week of WTM London, a UK focus for the programme was launched, with 40 influencers with a combined reach of three million people invited to an event where one of them would win the chance to travel to Rio.
As well as increasing the flow of tourism by 20%, a key objective of the programme is generating R$6.1 billion and 170,000 jobs; in the past year following the Olympics, the city managed to maintain a 6% increase in visitors.
Lummertz admitted oversupply of hotels was now also an issue. “Rio doubled the number of rooms for the Olympics and the World Cup, now we need to continue to help to fill them; $3 billion was invested in hotels and $12 billion in public infrastructure – we need to make that start paying back.”
He stressed too how Brazil was trying to expand the number of gateways of interest, such as Air France-KLM’s pursuance of a development strategy that will see it link Fortaleza to its two main hubs at Amsterdam-Schiphol and Paris-Charles de Gaulle from May 2018.
“We have 24 different cities with international flights,” said Lummertz. “International connectivity grew by 11.5% in the past 12 months.”
There is also hope that new legislation currently being considered by parliament will help liberalize ownership of airlines in Brazil, allowing for more foreign investment (currently capped at 20%) and the chance for them to increase productivity and efficiency as a result.
“If there was better internal connectivity we would have a chance to reduce flying costs and boost the diversity of where people can – and want – to go,” said Lummertz.