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Brazil, land of color, music, beauty and diversity

Article - August 30, 2011
Few countries invoke as many colorful images and feelings as Brazil. To some, it is the land of samba and Carnaval.
To others, it is bossa nova and relaxed beaches. The Amazon forest and river, flora and fauna, deft soccer players, scantily clad beauties, and fruity cocktails also jump quickly to mind.

While these stereotypes are true and there to be enjoyed, Brazil is also so much more. The 5 million foreign tourists who visit the country every year can attest to this, but Brazil is a superlative place with a huge capacity to welcome many millions more. The upcoming World Cup and Olympics will put Brazil in the limelight as hundreds of thousands flock to its cities, and as millions more watch on from their TV sets around the world.

Brazil’s tourism ministry is putting efforts into endorsing  the country’s other attractions, along with, of course, its more obvious advantages. “We need to be able to compete with Caribbean beaches. We need to have a more diversified product and work on promoting our big cities, our beaches, culture and heritage, as well as eco-tourism destinations,” explains Mario Moyses, Vice Minister of Tourism.

“A lot of effort is being put into showcasing more diversified destinations, going beyond the usual sun, sand and sea. We need to fill these gaps and emphasize on our highly varied tourism products. We also have to change our image. Right now, when people think of Brazil, they only think of soccer and samba, but there is a lot more to it than that.”

Brazil offers a unique blend of adventure tourism, eco-tourism, culture, heritage, fishing, golf and more. Also, as the largest country on the continent and fifth largest in the world, Brazil boasts a tremendous variety of landscapes and climates.

Apart from the Amazon (the largest single reserve of biological organisms in the world, with anywhere between 800,000 and 5 million species living there), visitors can also experience, for example, the Pantanal Park in Mato Grosso, in southwestern Brazil. The southern cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba enjoy a subtropical climate, where winter nighttime temperatures can even drop below freezing. Other cities, like Fortaleza in the north, offer the best of both cosmopolitan life and leisure. Fortaleza, home of Reveillon (Brazil’s second biggest New Year’s Eve party) and endless stretches of white-sand beaches, is also beefing up its hotel offer and its public transportation network for upcoming World Cup games.

Brazil is a long-haul destination, especially for North American and European travelers, and until recently welcomed international flights mostly at Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Other airports in cities like Brasilia, Fortaleza, Salvador, Recife and Manaus, however, are now being used as points of entry. This diversity of gateways is certainly a boon to travel, given the country’s immense size.

“If someone wants to go to Amazonas, stopping over in São Paulo first from North America, the trip will take a total of 18 hours – 10 hours from NYC to Brazil, two to three hours at the airport, and five hours to Manaus,” says Mr. Moyses.

Across the vast expanse of the nation, visitors find Brazilians to be warm and welcoming, the food delicious, and the country itself to be beautiful, fascinating and unique. “Over 94% of our visitors recommend Brazil to their family and peers, and want to come back when the opportunity arises,” boasts Mr. Moyses.