By Arkady Petrov

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – More than three million people are expected to cross Avenida Paulista, in São Paulo, this Sunday, June 23rd, during the 23rd edition of the LGBT Pride Parade, according to the organization. Under the theme “50 years of Stonewall,” the event is expected to see a 12 to 15 percent increase in the number of tourists in the city, according to SPTuris, despite President Jair Bolsonaro’s criticism of LGBT tourism.

"The city is proud of its Parade," said Bruno Covas, the mayor of São Paulo.
“The city is proud of its Parade,” said Bruno Covas, the mayor of São Paulo. (Photo internet reproduction)

The expected increase, as well as the growth of all LGBT tourism in Brazil, goes against statements made by President Jair Bolsonaro, who said in late April that Brazil “cannot be the country of the gay world.” In May, the government withdrew its support to LGBT tourism from the National Tourism Plan.

According to the Municipal Secretariat of Tourism of the city of São Paulo, the Parade raised R$288 million (US$72 million) during the 2018 weekend. In a survey conducted in 2017, it was estimated that each visitor stayed for an average of two days and spent approximately R$1,100.

This year Avenida Paulista will feature 19 electric cars with national and international attractions, as well as a variety of activities planned for the entire Corpus Christi holiday.

On Friday, June 21st, the 2nd Trans Pride March of São Paulo was held and, on Saturday, the São Paulo LGBT Walking Tour, which aims to show areas in the city connected to the LGBT community.

Among the many attractions will be former Spice Girl Melanie C, Iza, Gloria Groove, Aretuza Love, Luiza Sonza, among others. The city will also feature film sessions on the theme, the Miss Gay Brazil 2019 competition, and even the Diversity Dog Parade.

Approximately three out of every four visitors to this event are from São Paulo.

The event is sponsored by big companies, such as Burger King, Uber, and Amstel, as well as by the city hall and the state government. This year, the capital city hall invested R$1.8 million. There is no federal government investment in the event.

“The city is proud of its Parade, and the City Hall contributes in any way possible. It is a key point in creating jobs and income in the city. Last year, it raised an estimated R$288 million”, said the mayor Bruno Covas during the press conference on the event.

São Paulo, Brazil, 3rd June 2018: participants of the 22nd edition of the LGBT Pride Parade in São Paulo held on Avenida Paulista. (Photo Alamy)

The São Paulo LGBT Pride Parade is the leading LGBT tourism event in Brazil and one of the largest in the world, but it is not the only attraction. A survey released at the LGBT Tourism Forum by IGLTA in April shows that this sector grew 11 percent in 2017, while overall tourism grew 3.5 percent.

This is the result of an image enhancement abroad, of Brazil as a destination for this sector. “When we speak about tourism, the countries and cities which are more comfortable for LGBT tourists are, of course, more sought after,” he argues. This is why the president’s statements are so “troubling”, he says.

In April, the president stated that Brazil “cannot be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism”. “We have families,” he justified. According to him, “if someone wants to come here and have sex with a woman, be my guest.”

Clovis Casemiro, Brazil’s coordinator of IGLTA, the leading association promoting LGBT tourism in the world, does not believe that this statement will hinder the influx of visitors. He argues that the number of visitors should not decrease as they understand that the statements do not represent Brazil.

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