Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
RIO DE JANEIRO — With less than 50 days to go before the start of the 2016 Rio Olympics and despite Zika and economic woes, Brazil says it’s ready to welcome athletes and fans to South America’s first Olympics.
More than 70% of tickets for the Olympic Games and 55% of tickets for the Paralympics Games have been sold and organizers say they expect to have 100% tickets sold by the beginning of the games.
The Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur) recently launched a campaign to encourage Canadian, Australian, American and Japanese travellers to take advantage of the visa waiver and visit Brazil during the Olympics. Organizers estimate that the initiative, with the slogan ‘Brazil is open to you!’, will reach over 70 million people.
“We believe the current valuation of the dollar and increased foreign purchasing power in Brazil should attract this audience,” said José Antonio Parente, Deputy President of Embratur.
Brazil hopes the visa exemption will be a major contributing factor in a 20% jump in the number of arrivals of international visitors, representing an increase of 75,000 international tourists. The total number of international tourists expected during the Games is between 300,000 and 500,000 people, with a projection of US$1.7 billion result for Brazil’s economy, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Brazil’s Ministry of Health is refuting any information that the Zika virus may be a reason to prevent the 2016 Rio Olympics from going ahead. It says the risk of disease transmission during the Olympic and Paralympic Games is “minimal”; a study from the University of Cambridge estimates less than one case among 500,000 international visitors.
Over the weekend Rio de Janeiro’s state declared a state of emergency, to open up more funding it says will be needed during the Games.