A three-letter word that spells fun: ‘Rio’, Brazil prepares for Olympics

A three-letter word that spells fun: ‘Rio’, Brazil prepares for Olympics

TORONTO — While the Pan Am games may be consuming Canadians at the moment, Brazilian officials visiting Toronto this week are busy promoting an even bigger sporting event – the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

“Next year we’ll host the Olympics and we came here to invite you to come,” said Vinicius Lummertz, President Embratur, Brazilian Tourism Board, addressing an audience of tour operators and travel agents at the brunch event billed as Rio Brazil 2016, held in partnership with the Consulate General of Brazil.

“We’re very proud of the work being done and we know from previous recent experiences that Brazil will be hosting a great event,” said Lummertz. “Rio has invested $20 billion enhancing its infrastructure and the legacy…it’s going to be a different city after the Olympics,” he added, describing Rio as the “door to Brazil”.

He said an increasing number of regional flights will also offer more opportunities to visit other parts of the country.

It wasn’t that long ago, Brazil hosted another major sporting event – the 2014 FIFA World Cup (Rio was one of the host cities), and though Lummertz admitted the event faced its share of criticism even within Brazil, he relayed how others have since hailed it as the best World Cup ever.

“We organized pretty well a very large event and all the large events in the last few years, which amounted to a very unique experience for Brazil and exposure.” He said tourism in Brazil has grown as a result and that the Olympics will offer yet another opportunity to showcase Brazil to the world.

Lummertz said Canadians and Brazilians should know each other’s countries better. “I understand Canadians are lacking Vitamin D,” he quipped, adding Brazil sells Vitamin D – in the form of airplane tickets.

“We want to create a committee of buyers in Canada similar to what we have with Argentina and Peru so we can have an agenda through the year to have a better and more permanent relationship that will raise awareness of possibilities in business and also tourist packages, and opportunities,” he said. “We are expecting the Olympic games to foster our relationships… with North America.”

Lummertz encouraged closer ties between Canada and Brazil and said officials were working on “facilitating the visa process”. One official later told Travelweek, that visas, which cost $97, take about 15 days to obtain and the goal is to reduce the time to zero or one day. There are also discussions about waiving the visa fee for travellers (including Canadians) visiting the country during the Olympics and possibly scrapping it altogether for North Americans.

Other speakers at the event included Jose Vicente de Sa Pimentel, Consul General of Brazil who spoke of a “serious deficit” in traffic between Canada and Brazil. “I think both countries would benefit greatly from more exposure to one another, so missions and events like this are very welcome,” he said.

“Both sports and tourism wouldn’t be as big as they are if they weren’t fun,” he said. “The three letter word (fun) has its perfect counterpart in geographic terms with another three letter word city, which is Rio. It’s time for Brazil.”

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