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By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Amidst a crippling economic crisis and rising security concerns, a new program for small businesses called Fortalecimento do Turismo nas Praias da Zona Sul (Strengthening South Zone Beach Tourism) was announced yesterday, August 1st.

Uruguayan sandwich, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
A tasty Uruguayan sandwich can be bought at a beach barraca, one of many along the beaches of Ipanema, photo by Mateus Vicente.

The goal is that by December 2018, the end of the project, business revenue from the beaches will grow nine percent, according to SEBRAE/RJ, the Service of Support to Micro and Small Enterprises of the State of Rio de Janeiro.

The organization says they want to increase the competitiveness of the small businesses in the tourism supply chain, making the activity more attractive and with greater added value for products and services aimed at tourists and residents.

Bruno Fernandes, an analyst for SEBRAE/RJ told a government news agency that based on the results of a research study, the entity has proposed a series of solutions focused on the qualification of the beach entrepreneur, and establishing a connection with other ventures located around the area.

“The idea is for us to train, qualify these entrepreneurs and talk to them about hotels, inns, restaurants and tourism agencies. That we can integrate the entire supply chain of tourism on the waterfront and in the surroundings and automatically improve the tourism experience, [and] the image of Rio de Janeiro as a destination of sun and beach,” Fernandes said.

The research was conducted between August and October of last year at fifteen beaches in the capital of Rio de Janeiro with 1,238 respondents, of whom fifty percent are barracas and fifty percent street vendors. The survey shows that although 99.2 percent of businesses are not registered with a CNPJ, 44 percent of the entrepreneurs showed interest in formalizing their business.

summer season hits Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
The goal is that by the end of the project in December 2018, business revenues from beaches could grow nine percent, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur.

The actions proposed to strengthen tourism and the beach economy involve public policies, business training, association, market access, beach promotion, sustainability, including accessibility.

On September 21st and 22nd, SEBRAE/RJ will organize a meeting of the beach entrepreneurs, with representatives of the tourist trade in Rio de Janeiro, to draw up a plan of implementation.

The survey also reveals that in the high season, the interviewees (mainly in Barra da Tijuca, Ipanema and Copacabana) reported that the average transactions range from 100 to 125 clients per day, with an average of R$81 per client. The average monthly sales in the high season was reported by 29.2 percent of respondents as being between R$5,000 and R$10,000.

The president of ASCOLPRA (Legalized Beach Trade Association), Paulo Juarez, also know as ‘Paulinho’, is optimistic about the SEBRAE/RJ project. “Every initiative always ends up working. That’s what we expect,” he said. “Due to the crisis in the state of Rio de Janeiro and the violence, we are seeing the tourist leaving, no tourist coming back, and we must take action.”

Lauren Quinn, an American expatriate living in Rio and owner of Ipanema-based Casa Bromelia shares, “This is a step in the right direction! There are many benefits of registering as a vendor in Rio. The process itself is straight forward and simple making it feasible for everybody.”

“There is also a large ‘tax-free’ incentive,” she adds. “Overall it creates a sense of connection by legitimizing their daily work and integrate these locals into the tourism supply chain, without hurting their businesses.”

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