By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Talks are underway to lift tourist visa requirements for citizens from certain countries, starting with the United States, for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympic Summer Games. The announcement was made on Thursday (June 11th) by Tourism Minister Henrique Alves. According to the official the United States is the country that sends the most tourists to Brazil and those who stay the longest period of time.
“Brazil, with its cultural diversity, gastronomy and events can no longer just receive six million tourists per year. Thailand with its six million inhabitants received last year 24 million visitors,” said Alves.
“This is a sign that we have to change and invest in tourism as an important economic activity. The Olympics is our great chance to show what we want to become,” he added while visiting the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. According to Alves, if the experience is successful the government will extend the exemption to other countries.
For Rio de Janeiro Mayor, Eduardo Paes, next year’s events will be a great opportunity to show the world the beauty of the city; “Brazil has a golden opportunity with the Games to reveal its tourist potential to the world.”
For the Olympics and Paralympics, athletes from all over the world and their families already have exemption of the tourist visas during August and September of 2016 according to the local Olympics Organizing Committee.
Foreign volunteers chosen by the Committee to work during the Games will also be exempt from the visa fee and visas for those volunteers will be expedited.