Casey Hanisko, ATTA’s VP of Marketing & Communications, reached out to Alexandre Nakagawa, the Strategic Director of Embratur (Brazil’s tourism board), to get his thoughts on Brazil’s tourism strategy specifically around adventure and the recent AdventureWeek in Bonito and the Pantanal.
Q (Hanisko): Brazil has had a rich history with adventure and eco-tourism, how has Brazil’s tourism strategy shifted in recent years as not only the global economy meets major challenges such as BREXIT but also your own domestic economic fluctuations?
A (Nakagawa): The truth is that the country’s tourism strategy has not shifted in terms of what direction to take. Brazil elaborated the Aquarela Plan for a reason. The country and, specifically the tourism sector, is still following those directives. The goal is to diversify products and to better the services in order to receive more foreign tourists. Of course, challenges in the global economy and in the local political and economic scenario will affect Brazil as it will affect any other country as well. But it is what it is, a fluctuation. In the long run, the plan stays in motion. In the case of BREXIT, the pound has dropped against the dollar and the Euro. The prediction is that it will remain weak in the near future. Will this affect us? Sure. It’s not easy to attract travelers affected by a weakened currency. Not only will this affect British travelers but also EU travelers, as their economies will also be affected. However, the impact might not be so strong. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts growth in the tourism sector of 3.6% in Britain over the year. Brazil will stick to the plan and keep working. We still have the advantage that the dollar, the pound and the Euro are not weakened against the Brazilian Real.
Q (Hanisko): What regions of Brazil are well developed for adventure travel however you feel are not well known to a majority of travelers?
A (Nakagawa): Brazil is divided in five regions that spread out over 27 states. Some famous areas for ecotourism and adventure travel are the Iguassu National Park, the Amazon, the Pantanal, Fernando de Noronha Island, Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, the city of Bonito in Mato Grosso do Sul State, among others. During the Adventure Travel World Summit in Alaska, which took place last September, we presented a video of the “Route of Emotions”. It is a tour that connects three states in Northeast Brazil. Ceará, Piauí, and Maranhão. Also recently, Avery Stonich, a writer for National Geographic, mentioned the Pantanal as Brazil’s best kept secret.
“I had a different opinion regarding Brazil in general and I thought Bonito and Pantanal will be the same. Like big cities, lots of tourists, not a lot of nature. This part of Brazil was special to me because people were friendly, parts we visited are not mass tourism and fit well with what I wanted to see about the country.”
Objectif Travel, AdventureWeek Participant
Q (Hanisko): What do these regions offer that is unique and what kind of travelers do they appeal to most?
A (Nakagawa): The Route of Emotions includes three of the most rare and lush tourist destinations in Brazil: the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park (in Maranhão), the Parnaíba River Delta (between Maranhão and Piauí), and the region of Jericoacoara and Camocin (in Ceará). Travelers will have their pick of adventure, sun, ecotourism, beaches, calm, and astonishing scenarios.
The Pantanal is a mosaic of ecosystems with an abundance of water. It holds 656 species of birds, 325 species of fish, 159 species of mammals, 98 species of reptiles, 53 species of amphibians, and over 3,500 species of plants. In Avery Stonich’s words, “The marshes of the Pantanal region are home to an impressive variety of life, from jaguars and alligators to the imperiled hyacinth macaw.”
“I knew these were interesting destinations but not sure if they could displace the big Brazil hot spots. I’m more likely to recommend Bonito and Pantanal in addition to, and possibly over, some of the more popular regions.”
South Explorations, AdventureWeek Participant
Q (Hanisko): Recently the ATTA worked with Brazil on an AdventureWeek, what did you learn most from the participating buyers and media that may shift your strategies going forward?
A (Nakagawa): The fact that our Pantanal was described as Brazil’s best kept secret opened our eyes to the necessity of more promotion. The trade must be informed about our products and destinations and know that we have tour operators commercializing them. We recommend contacting ATTA’s members and also ABETA – Brazilian Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Trade Association.
“Prior to the AdventureWeek Brazil in Bonito and Pantanal, this particular area of Brazil was not on our radar, even though we have been considering Brazil as a destination. By being included in this experience it has really opened our eyes to this particular area as a possibility for our future trips, so I think it was a very valuable experience. We learned a lot and were connected with several agencies in Brazil who we have maintained contact with and plan to do business with when we start our trips in Brazil.”
Detours Travel, AdventureWeek Participant
Q (Hanisko): Several AdventureWeek participants have started offering Brazil, several already do and are changing up their itineraries, what do you hope to see happen next?
A (Nakagawa): We hope many foreign visitors will come visit and we can meet all their expectations with excellent infrastructure, services and safety.
“We were inspired by our visit to the region, and Irene [Edwards] in particular was impressed by the diverse offering available to us as we consider Brazil product. Because of this, we plan to add Brazil to our portfolio and will include several less visited areas like Bonito/Pantanal that would be a great fit for our client-base.”
Greenspot Travel, AdventureWeek Participant
Tour operators experiencing Brazil have since developed new itineraries such as: