By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Wednesday, September 21st, Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism released the results of its latest survey, which showed that not only were the Rio 2016 Paralympics a success in the stadiums and arenas, they were also a big hit with the thousands of international tourists who visited the Cidade Maravilhosa during the major sporting event.
From September 8th to 13th, during the Paralympic Games period, the Tourism Ministry surveyed both international and domestic visitors throughout the city. The survey revealed that among international visitors, 90.5 percent intended to return to the country, with 87.8 percent saying that the trip met or exceeded expectations.
Almost sixty percent of international tourists interviewed were first-time visitors to the city. Fifty-four percent of the tourists interviewed cited the Paralympics as the reason for their trip.
“The positive figures prove the great success of the games,” exclaimed acting Minister of Tourism, Alberto Alves. “If before the competition, we believed that tourism would be the great legacy of the country, now we are convinced that the good results obtained in this period showed to the world the natural beauty and incredible cultural richness that make Brazil an excellent destination.”
Similar to the Rio 2016 Olympics, during the Paralympics, the United States continued to be Rio’s major source of tourists (18.2 percent), followed by Spain (15.5 percent), Argentina (6.1 percent), France (6.1 percent) and Germany (5.4 percent).
The Tourism Ministry’s survey also asked visitors about their impressions of the services in the city. Among the services most highly rated by tourists were restaurants (98.5 percent), food (97.1 percent), accommodations (96 percent) and nightlife (95.7 percent). In relation to the services offered at the Rio 2016 Paralympic events, visitors spoke highly of the ticket prices (95.3 percent), general organization (93 percent) and infrastructure (85.9 percent).
“We’re staying in Ipanema and went to Barra for the Paralympics last Thursday (September 15th) and Friday (September 16th), it was fantastic,” American tourist Monica Kolynski told the Rio Times. “We thought it was very well-organized.”
On average, international tourists during the Paralympic period stayed 10.8 nights in Rio and spent about R$284.48 (US$87.86) per day.
Among the Brazilian tourists, the survey found that 43 percent traveled to Rio with the Paralympics as their main reason, with 22.6 percent saying they had never visited city. Most Brazilian visitors came from the Southeast region (60.9 percent), followed by the South (sixteen percent), Northeast (twelve percent), West (8.1 percent) and North (three percent).
According to the study, Brazilians stayed an average of 6.7 nights in Rio, spending on average R$278.08 (US$85.88) a day. During the period, 82.6 percent of Brazilian tourists said they had participated in tourist activities apart from the Games, including visiting Rio’s beaches, museums and shopping centers.
In addition, 17.5 percent of Brazilians said they also visited other tourist destinations, with most citing Petrópolis, Buzios, and Cabo Frio. An impressive 99 percent of Brazilians said their trip to Rio met or exceeded expectations with 95.5 percent claiming they expected to return.
In addition to the high tourist approval ratings, the Rio 2016 Paralympics, which concluded on September 18th, were a great success on the playing fields, with the host-nation team winning the most medals ever in the country’s history, and at the box office, with ticket sales of 2.1 million, putting Rio 2016 ahead of Beijing 2008 and just behind London 2012.