By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Despite the recent outbreak of violence reported in some of Rio de Janeiro’s favela communities, Brazil’s Federal Government on Sunday unveiled a tourism plan to attract more visitors to the city. The total investment into the plan, with partnerships from the private sector, is expected to be over R$1 billion.
The program entitled, Rio de Janeiro a Janeiro (Rio from January to January) will center around a calendar with one hundred strategic events occurring throughout the year in Rio in the areas of culture, sports, tourism and business.
“The idea is, through the calendar, a systematic action so that the events are not only feasible, but that they can grow, “said Culture MInister, Sérgio Sá Leitão.
Considered as the gateway to Brazil for foreign visitors, the federal government along with state and local authorities want to establish a public security policy capable of ensuring security and peace to those visiting the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City).
According to Leitão, tourism represents about 7.9 percent of the state’s economy and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs. “This is one of the main economic and social vocations of our state and [the city of] Rio de Janeiro,” he added.
Officials stated that the federal government would contribute over R$150 million to the events’ calendar, through sponsorships of state companies and tax breaks to encourage Culture and Sport.
The program has three fronts with public security being one of the authorities’ top priorities. According to Wellington Moreira Franco, General Secretary of the Presidency the program hopes to ‘restore an environment of security and trust’ in Rio de Janeiro, both for residents and tourists.
When questioned about the enrollment of the Armed Forces to try to dissipate the violence in the Rocinha community this past weekend, Moreira Franco said the soldiers will stay until officials are satisfied that the community is safe.
“The time necessary for it to be able to build a base of public security in Rio de Janeiro able to guarantee security, tranquility and peace to its community,” responded Moreira Franco.
According to the Getulio Vargas Foundation, the program should increase the flow of tourism in Rio de Janeiro by 20 percent, injecting approximately R$6.1 billion into Rio de Janeiro’s economy and generating 170,000 jobs.