By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Defined as a destination manager service, the tourism outfit Rio Love Story was launched in August 2016 just before the Olympics, and they have not looked back. Launched by Swedish expatriate Tavi Norén, the team has also recently launched a Rio Cultural Interaction program based in the Vidigal favela community.
Norén has lived in Brazil since 2011, after travelled to over forty countries as a self-described nomad. He explains, “I worked with the telecom giant Ericsson for sixteen years and in fifteen countries, and the main purpose of wanting to work in so many countries was because I was looking for where I wanted to live permanently.”
Adding “I knew I wanted to live in a place with a warmer climate and fun people, so when I finally discovered Brazil and specifically Rio, there was no doubt, this was the city! So I pretty much requested a transfer by Ericsson, changing from being employed in Sweden to Brazil, that was back in 2011.”
The group Rio Love Story has a international team and operates in Portuguese, Spanish, English and Swedish. Among the services listed are: event production (location, sound & light, music, staff) , accommodation sourcing, tailor-made programs for individuals or groups, tours and travel transfers, market research and photo/video services.
Recently they also launched the Rio Cultural Interaction experience, created in partnership with the administration of the Hotel Mirante do Arvrão, located on the highest point in Vidigal. Along with Daniel Graziane from the management of the hotel, Norén created an interactive program that would allow foreigners to understand and experience the Brazilian culture and also the culture of the Vidigal favela community.
“We wanted to create a complete experience that would, in a short time, explain in an entertaining and very Brazilian manner the very essentials and richness of the Brazilian culture,” explained Norén. “And we decided we could only achieve that by creating a team of Brazilian artist that would deliver the experience to the guests.”
Adding, “Every experience included is for the guest to really interact, meaning learning how to do something and understand why that specific part of the culture exist and it’s purpose. For example, flying a kite in the favela is a child hood dream even for many Brazilians and a great lead in to telling the history of Vidigal and how the kite has been use.”
In addition the program teaches guests how to make caipirinhas & Brazilian feijoada, how to dance samba and funk carioca, as well as capoeira class and a performance. Norén shares, “many people really enjoy learning the basic steps of funk Carioca given by our great dance instructor Júlio César, that really rocks the Mirante do Arvrão.”
Heavily focused on social media and creating fun travel content about Rio de Janeiro, Norén explains that the plan for the future is “to keep making entertaining content, video and images, that shows all that is positive about Rio to the world. So that more international tourist will come and not only during the Carnival but all year.”
“We will also keep looking for gaps in the Rio tourist market where we can create a new experience for the visitor, always with the core elements of being fun, Carioca, social, and leveraged by the spectacular abundance of beauty and possibilities that Rio provides everyday to us.”
While safety and security in Rio and especially the favela communities has improved since the UPP, readers should know it has now deteriorated due to a financial crisis, and it is not advised to go without a local guide service.