Is tourism the solution for Rio?

Rio, a solution with open arms
by Vinicius Lummertz, President of Embratur

A new window of opportunity has been opening up for tourism in Rio de Janeiro. Cities that were consolidating as major tourist destinations in the world are reaching their limit, analysts say. In a striking article (PT) in the magazine Visão, Portuguese journalist Sara Rodrigues has no doubts: “Tourismphobia is spreading throughout Europe”. Cities like Barcelona (32 million last year, with 8 million foreigners, for a fixed population of 1.5 million) or Venice (22 million in 2016, for a population of 350,000) are studying ways to contain the hordes of visitors.

So, now it is our turn. Yes, it’s time to say that if they don’t want tourists, then may they come to Rio, may they come to Brazil.

The city, like Christ the Redeemer that illuminates it, is with open arms, as always. New tourist facilities installed during the cycle of major events (2007-2017) are there, as well as investments in mobility. In terms of private initiatives, more than twice as many beds are being offered as were available less than ten years ago.

For the first time in the last three years, the number of new international connections to Brazil (Rio included) has grown again. We now have the ease of electronic visa entry for Australians and, by the end of January, for Americans, Canadians, and Japanese. The exchange rate is still favorable for tourists coming to Brazil.

In September a nice calendar of events was announced, predicting big events every month and other dozens of happenings scattered throughout the year. Today’s major tourist destinations were as violent as Rio de Janeiro 30 years ago. Not taking into account the recent terrorist attacks that scare residents and tourists from emblematic cities around the globe. Thirty years ago, Miami, for example, as well as being a city surrounded by crime, was bankrupt. The city council put several measures in place, among them the creation of a calendar of events.

Tourism is starting to be treated as the protagonist for a possible exit to the serious economic and social problems of the city that is the postcard of Brazil. This assertion that tourism belongs on the main agenda of the economy has also become political, and therefore should take on new heights of awareness in society.

Why Rio? The city continues being the largest connection in Brazil with the rest of the universe and speaks for the world to the rest of the country.

When it doesn’t speak for politics, it speaks for aesthetics, music, arts or habits. Its greatest good is its lightness and its renewal. Its evil perhaps is too adaptive. Not being able to say “enough already!”. Both the good and bad appear first and last in Rio.

Here we have the magic mirror of the nation. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to talk about Rio’s problems, about Rio’s violence, without contextualizing Brazil. We are coming out of a difficult time, nationally, with increasingly strong signs of economic recovery. Brazilian tourism and Rio tourism must be prioritized at this time, instead of looking at the city like a shattered glass.

Government actions to tackle organized crime are fundamental. But said actions alone don’t solve the problem. Of course taking assault rifles off the streets will be an important step. However, it’s necessary that young people no longer see the appeal of the criminal world. The greatest concrete opportunities for such youth are in tourism and in an attractive environment linked to a strong tourist town.

The victory of Rio will have a greater result than simply saving the city. It will have the role of guiding Brazil along new and happy paths that have the words ‘tourism’ and ‘creativity’ as a central point. – Source (PT)


This is placing the cart before the horse. Rio needs to take care of public security before it focuses on a tourism push. Tourism being down is a direct result of the lack of safety. This is to say nothing of the main reason for tourism-phobia in Europe. Over-tourism is a disease and can only be controled with laws in place, which are then being actively enforced. Tourism makes the economy move but it’s just a band-aid to larger economic problems.

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