By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil received a record number of foreign tourists in 2011, according to figures released by the Ministry of Tourism. The number of foreigners increased 5.3 percent to over 5.43 million, beating the previous record of 5.36 million visitors from overseas, set in 2005.

Tourists flood to Iguaçu Falls in Paraná, on the Brazil border with Argentina, Brazil News
Tourists flood to Iguaçu Falls in Paraná, on the Brazil border with Argentina, photo by Ben Tavener.

The increase in foreign visitors was driven by strong growth from neighboring countries in South America.

The numbers of visitors from countries in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group of emerging economies also swelled, with a massive forty percent increase in visitors from Russia – who no longer require a visa to visit.

Argentina continues to hold the top spot: 1.6 million Argentinians came to Brazil in 2011. Visitors from the U.S. placed second, accounting for 10.9 percent, and Uruguayans took third place with 4.8 percent.

Visitors from Europe accounted for nearly 30 percent of total overseas tourists, or 1.62 million – up marginally on 2010.

But despite the increase in visitor numbers, Brazil still lags behind neighboring Argentina – which saw 5.7 million foreigners visiting in 2011, and is well behind Mexico, which managed to attract 22.4 million tourists last year.

The Ministry also revealed that seventy percent of those coming to Brazil entered the country through an airport. Despite the growth, in the run-up to Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup, FIFA expressed concern that the country’s airports were unprepared for the inevitable influx of tourists that would accompany the games.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.


  1. Brasil offers so much nature, many tourists like myself want to enjoy the beautiful nature of Brazil.
    But imagine Brasil is destroying its nature, destroying the Amazone forests and this will give desastous consequenses. Even to waterfalls like in Iguazu when Brasil is going to destroy the Amazone. Alread 40% of the Amazone is being destroyed.
    Besides the consequenses for nature, even for the whole world since the Amazone is one of the lungs of the world ( besides Congo and Indonesia tourist will not come and see the beautiful nature since Brasil is destroying this.
    I do hope mrs. Dilma will Veta, so there is still hope for the Amazone in Brasil, hope for Mother Earth and our children who are being confronted with a world with less and less nature, less end less nature to profide clean air. Will we ever learn… learn to respect nature since we can not change it back.
    Investigations show the destroying of forest already has consequences for our climate and we all know this.
    Will Brasil learn to respect Nature? If not the conscequenses will be harsh for Brasil and for the World.
    Please mrs. Dilma, Veta, please respect Mother Earth since already 40% of the Amazone is already being destroyed…

  2. I’m happy that Brasil tourism is going up.
    But is sad about this issue that the Hotel and hospitality Industry is terribly lacking in providing hotel rooms and accommodations to the tourists. Most 5/4/3 stars hotels are from 1930s and look like dumps with rooms in horrible condition. Brazil needs to build modern hotels with plenty of rooms for the increasing number of tourists.
    In the US brazil has a very poor reputation when it comes to hotels. These are 3rd world accommodations with exorbitant prices. If brazil wants more tourists especially with FIFA and Olympics they need get their act together an improve the accomodations, hotels n infrastructure .


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