By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For Australians wishing to visit the Cidade Maravilhosa, trekking out to their local Brazilian consulate to wait in long lines for a visa is now a thing of the past.
Beginning this week, Brazil is issuing e-visas for visitors from Australia, allowing the entire visa process, from application to delivery, to occur online without needing to show up at the consulate.
“Today we celebrate a great victory for Brazilian tourism,” said Brazil’s Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão at the e-visa announcement earlier this week. “Visa facilitation is a long-held goal in the industry and one of the measures suggested by the World Tourism Organization to attract more visitors to the country.”
“It’s great news,” exclaimed Australian expatriate and manager of the Caminhos Language Center, Bel Casson, to The Rio Times. “It means more tourism for Brazil and easy access for Australians wanting to travel to Brazil. Hopefully, it will attract more Aussies to this beautiful country where they can enjoy more sun, sand, and surf.”
Under the expedited process, the visa applicant fills out the online application found at the designated government website, uploads all the required documents, and pays the fee. Once the application is approved, the visa will be e-mailed to the applicant in about four days.
According to Vinicius Lummertz, president of Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Institute), the move toward e-visas will not only spark Brazil’s flailing tourism industry, it will be fundamental in helping to pull the entire country out of its current economic predicament.
“The electronic visa for Australian tourists…opens the way for the increase in the number of flights and travel packages.”
“But,” Lummertz explained, “it’s not only tourists who will come to our country. There will be an increase in trade between Brazil and these countries. It is these people, this flow, which will strengthen our internationalization, which will bring the investments we so badly need, to benefit the future of Brazil and of new generations.”
Brazil has tried similar measures before in the hopes of boosting the economy. In late 2015, the Brazil government approved a temporary visa waiver for tourists traveling to the country for the Rio 2016 Olympics from Australia, the U.S., Canada, and Japan.
According to Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism (MTur), due to the visa waiver and the Olympics, in 2016, approximately 49,800 Australian tourists visited Brazil, an 11 percent increase from 2015. The average Australian tourist stayed in Brazil about 12.5 days and spent about $US101 per day.
Of those tourists from Australia, about 60 percent visited Brazil for leisure, with most interested in nature destinations, ecotourism, or the sun and beach.
“Australians have always loved traveling to Brazil,” explained Casson. “[The two countries] have always had a great relationship to the point where both the cultures are comparable and we feel like we are sister countries.”