By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Government officials in Brazil are discussing the extension of the permanent visa-waiver, which was in place during the Olympics and Paralympics for citizens of several countries including Canada and the United States. The plan being proposed would be for a year, and potentially open to more countries than the waiver offered during the Games.
“In the period of the [Olympic/Paralympic] Games, 75 percent of the tourists of the four nationalities (Japan, Canada, Australia and the United States) benefited from the exemption measure to enter Brazil. These foreigners spent US$142 million in the country,” said Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão on Saturday in João Pessoa, Paraiba.
Reiterating what he said in an earlier interview to The Wall St. Journal, he added, “We must take advantage of the visibility of these major events to reduce bureaucracy for those who want to come (to the country) and expand to the world our (tourism) destinations.”
Beltrão said in his interview, the extension could also include other countries that were not granted the waivers during the Games, such as China. The Minister said that the plan calls for a waiver to be first given for a twelve-month period, after which the government could better evaluate the results from the measure.
According to Panrotas, a website for tourism professionals, Brazilian destinations which most attract foreigners to Brazil are Rio de Janeiro (78 percent), the Amazon Rainforest (51 percent) and São Paulo (48 percent).
Tourism analysts report the impression made on the rest of the world by Rio and of Brazil during this year’s Games was very positive, not only for those who visited the Olympic city, but for the almost five billion spectators who watched the Games on television in every part of the world.