By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A new survey released by the Ministério do Turismo (Ministry of Tourism) shows that Brazil welcomed over six million international tourists during the year of 2014. With the number setting a new record and showing an increase of approximately ten percent over the number of international tourists recorded in 2013.

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Tourists arriving at a Brazilian airport in 2014 for the World Cup, photo by Tânia Regô/Agência Brasil.

The increase is thought to be due mainly to the 2014 World Cup games, which took place in twelve Brazilian cities from June 12th through July 13th. During the tournament, in the month of June of 2014 alone, the country welcomed 1,018,876 international tourists, a number nearly triple the 350,025 tourists that visited the country in 2013.

“The figures show that the World Cup was a big deal for tourism,” minister of Tourism, Henrique Alves said in a released statement. “Now the challenge is to ensure conditions for the sector to grow continuously.”

“The mega-events [2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics] are excellent catalysts for the increase in tourist flow to many destinations, but to maintain consistent growth, we have to tackle structural issues facing the tourism and professionally in Brazil.”

The survey’s data can be found in the Anuário Estatístico de Turismo 2015 do MTur (The Ministry of Tourism’s Statistical Yearbook of Tourism 2015) which is based on figures reported by the Federal Police.

Argentinians were the largest group to enter the country during 2014 with 1.7 million tourists entering the country during the year. Americans were the second largest group with almost 700,000 entering the country, followed by Chileans with over 300,000 visiting from that country.

The city of São Paulo received the most international visitors with 2.2 million entering the country through that city. Rio de Janeiro ranked second with a recorded 1.6 million international tourists entering the country there. The data shows that seventy percent of the tourists arrived by plane.

The survey found the 21.9 percent of the international visitors arrived as part of business travel; 20.9 percent stated that they came to the country to visit friends and/or family; and the majority of visitors 54.7 percent, stated they were visiting Brazil for leisure.

“Sporting and music events also attract the attention of foreigners,” said Alves. “By hosting the World Cup and events like Rock in Rio and the Olympic Games, the country tends to stand out and become a destination increasingly desired by foreigners.”

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