By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Tourists from the United States, Japan, Australia and Canada can now apply for visas to Brazil through the internet and the process will take at the most 72 hours, after the documents are received, according to officials.
With the measure the Brazilian government expects to increase the number of U.S. visitors by 200,000 per year alone in the country.
“If we want to compete for the international tourist, we have to end the bureaucracy and spread a red carpet for them to choose our destinations, shake the economy and create jobs in our country,” said Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão during a press conference earlier this week.
According to Beltrão Brazil is the destination of only 0.7 percent of the more than 75 million American tourists that travel abroad. Americans are the second largest tourist group traveling to Brazil, behind only neighboring Argentina and inject more than US$700 million into the Brazilian economy each year.
According to the Ministry, Brazilian cities most visited for business were São Paulo (40.4 percent), Rio de Janeiro (34.6 percent) and Salvador (3.7 percent). For vacation, the most popular cities for foreign American tourists were Rio de Janeiro (72.1 percent), São Paulo (19.3 percent) and Foz do Iguaçu (15.8 percent).
For the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the measures to ease the entry of tourists from these four countries is likely to increase by up to 25 percent of visitors to Brazil. Later this month, a visa exemption for citizens of countries of the United Arab Emirates will be implemented.
Looking to the future, EMBRATUR (Brazilian Tourism Institute) president, Vinicius Lummertz, said that the measures will also help increase international events and conferences in the country.
“The increased flow of tourists can also generate more business and more investments from the United States in Brazil, especially for the event area, which has been penalized by traditional visas,” Lummertz told journalists in New York this week.