Despite being an industrial powerhouse, Goiás is also a wonderful place to visit
Situated at the very heart of Brazil, the State of Goiás offers a multitude of attractions for visitors, from its colonial architecture and world heritage sites to its abundance of natural wonders and extraordinarily diverse wildlife.
The central Brazilian state is the most populous in the region and its landscape is characterised by chapadoes, or plateaus. During the drought season from June to September the lack of rain causes the Araguaia River to drop its banks, exposing over a mile of picturesque beaches which attract many tourists. The city of Caldas Novas in the south-east of the state boasts the largest hot spring on Earth, its waters generally flowing at temperatures between 68°F and 140°F. The city is located 102 miles from Goiânia and 211 miles from Brasília, while neighbouring Rio Quente is 19 miles away. Together these cities make up the “Region of Thermal Waters of the State of Goiás” and between them form the largest tourist destination in Brazil’s interior. Caldas Novas alone can attract 100,000 tourists during high season, with that number rising to 300,000 during Carnivale. Nearly 2,000 people are employed in the tourism sector in Caldas Novas and the city boasts over 80 hotels and hostels.
The small colonial town of Pirenópolis in central Goiás was listed as an architectural, urbanistic, landscape and historical heritage site by IPHAN (Institute of National Historic and Artistic Heritage) in 1989, due to its abundance of eighteenth century houses and churches. The city has been restored in recent years, with attention paid to its stone paved streets and casaroes (colonial houses). A new attraction is IPEC (Institute of Permaculture and Ecovillage of the Cerrado), an ecovillage and permaculture design institute, which offers foreign students study programs and allows visitors to get a first-hand account of the possibilities of sustainable living.
Goiás City itself, the former capital of the state was recognized in 2001 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique baroque architecture, its cultural traditions and exuberant natural wonders that surround it. Governor of Goiás, Marconi Perillo is determined to help continue growth in the state’s tourism industry: “We will work to enhance the availability of tourist information through sites, newspapers, television and we will guarantee security and infrastructure for everybody.”
Boosting the industry in coming years will be in no small part down to the FIFA World Cup 2014 being held in Brazil. The city of Goiânia will provide training grounds and host teams from around the globe, a privilege which President for Tourism Aparecido Sparapani hopes will bring more international attention to the state: “We actually hope that the state will achieve a much greater international visibility in terms of both tourism and entrepreneurship.” As well as improving infrastructure to surrounding cities in the run up to the event, the city is improving its hospitality industry with a focus on Castro’s Park Hotel, the first and only five star hotel in Goiânia.
The hotel’s General Manager Olavo de Castro is confident the facilities will impress visiting teams and give Goiás even more attention as a tourist destination: “We are working more and more to perfect customer service, as we believe that this really makes the difference. The aesthetic side of things is also important but it is the quality of the service offered that is most crucial.”