By Dorien Boxhoorn, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Along the lush green shores of the Costa Verde, 270 kilometers south of Rio de Janeiro, you can find the small colonial town of Paraty. This postcard village is situated against the backdrop of mountains covered with tropical forest, and on the other side a scenic bay dotted with tropical islands and numerous deserted beaches adorns the town.
Most of the village architecture has not changed over the last 250 years, the cobblestone-paved streets studded with priceless classical colonial buildings, and churches breathe the air of bygone days. In the present though, the weak dollar against the strong real makes Brazil, especially for Americans, an expensive country to visit, and some concern is growing over the effects on tourism.
According to Priscilla Tavares though, who is working at the tourist office in Paraty, there are changes in the industry but not creating a negative net impact.
Tavares explains: “It seems that there are less Americans who come to visit Paraty, but overall the tourism industry is still growing. Not only more foreigners are visiting this coastal town, more Brazilians have found their way to Paraty as well. For many years Paraty is very popular among people from São Paulo, but recently there are also more people from Rio de Janeiro visiting Paraty.”
The town, even in low season, seems the be very vibrant and full of tourists. During the day the beaches around Paraty flock with tourists and most of the many restaurants fill up when the evening sets.
Gill captain on the Soberano da Costa, one of the many schooners that leave from Paraty with tourists to visit some of the many tropical beaches the area has to offer, says the following about the recent changes in the tourism sector in which he has now worked more than twenty-one years: “The number of Americans that visit Paraty is definitely getting less. But it does not affect the people who work in the tourism industry because the number of tourists is still growing overall.”
Due to the growing economy in Brazil, more Brazilians go on vacation, and not only do traveling abroad. They also visit the jewels within their own country, such as the lovely place of Paraty.
Pricilla Tavares claims, “Paraty will remain to draw tourists, both from Brazil and abroad, not only because it is a stunningly beautiful town, but also because of the many famous festivals that are held here throughout the year.”
One such festival the town offers each year is the Paraty International Literature Festival (FLIP), held each summer. Started in 2003 by urban architect Mauro Munhoz British editor Liz Calder, FLIP stands today as one of the most prominent international literary festivals. This year’s FLIP, which took place from July 6th to the 10th, featured David Byrne of new wave band Talking Heads, as well as political cartoonist and author of such graphic novels as ”Palestine” Joe Sacco, among many others.
Bus tickets from Rio to Paraty and back are available from the Costa Verde bus company and typically cost around R$40 each way for the 4 hour trip, see the Costa Verde website for itineraries.