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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The government announced last week the ‘Brazil + Tourism’ program, a set of measures to strengthen the tourism sector in the country. Among the measures are issuance of electronic visas, expansion of the regional air network and opening of one hundred percent of Brazilian airlines capital to foreign investment.

Brazil, Thousands of tourists came to Brazil for 2016 Olympics/Paralympics,
Thousands of tourists came to Brazil for 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, photo by Tania Rego/Agencia Brasil.

“[The program] corrects a historical myopia that the government has had with Brazilian tourism,” said Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão.

“We have about thirteen million unemployed, and tourism can provide quick answers by generating employment,” he added during the press conference to announce the measures.

According to the Minister, the country expects the number of foreign tourists visiting Brazil to jump from the 6.5 million registered last year to twelve million in 2022, and revenues from tourism are expected to increase from the current US$6 billion a year to US$19 billion during that period.

Despite the announcement that President Temer would be signing last week an executive order lifting the barriers for foreign investments in Brazilian airline companies, the order was not signed due to the turbulent moment faced by Brazilian politicians and the Administration. Currently foreign investors are only allowed to own up to twenty percent of a Brazilian airline company.

“Our objective is to increase the competitiveness among companies and consequently reduce prices and offer more routes and destinations,” said Beltrão.

As for the implementation of electronic visas, the Ministry of Tourism proposed to the Ministry of Foreign Relations the implementation of such visas for tourists from countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.

The electronic visa would allow for the process of request, payment of fees, analysis, concession and issuance of visas to be done in a period of 48 hours. Beltrão added that the inclusion of other countries, including India and China, is currently under discussion.

There is also discussion about visa waivers for tourists of certain countries, although there is some resistance to the idea by the Foreign Relations Ministry.

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