Introduction: A nation of more than 201 million people, Brazil’s population makes it the one of the largest international inbound source markets, behind only China and India. One of the principal factors contributing to the nation’s growth as a travel market is the size of its “travel ready” middle class, which has grown from about 15 percent of the nation’s population in the 1980s to the more than 50 percent that it is now.
The economy has also been on a non-stop path of expansion for more than a decade until now. In fact, it almost contracted in 2014, growing by just 0.1 percent, and early analyses posted by some economists are projecting more of the same for 2015. As well, credit card charges were significantly down, year-over-year, in the first two months of the year—a potentially important factor in a country where most people purchase their vacations on parcelized payment plans.
Mirroring the economic data, arrivals to the U.S.—the favorite international destination for Brazilians—have increased nearly five-fold in the past decade, from 385 thousand visitors in 2004 to 2.264 million in 2014 and about 10 percent from 2013 to 2014. But the overheated rate of increase in arrivals cooled off somewhat in 2014, increasing in single digits for the first time in years—by just under 10 percent. And the last semi-annual forecast issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) projected that a total of 2.359 Brazilians would visit the USA in 2015—an increase of 4.2 percent.
The USA Profile in Brazil: At the recent meeting of the board of directors of Brand USA, Carroll Rheem, vice president of research and analytics, offered a look at some of the agency’s current numbers that pertain to Brazil. Some key tables include the following.
The U.S. share of the long haul market from Brazil is 29 percent –more than it is for the key overseas markets of the UK, Germany, China, France and others.
The USA is, and should remain, the most popular international destination for Brazilian travelers for some time to come.
One challenge will be to encourage Brazilians to go beyond the gateways (a key theme of Brand USA’s marketing plan for 2015 and beyond) because Brazilians are mostly visiting the same group of cities in Miami and Orlando in Florida, and New York City. However, Los Angeles and San Francisco have recently begun to show some growth.
Digital communication with the market is important, if not crucial. Internet penetration in the Brazil has been higher, in recent years, than it has been in the other major growth markets of China and India.
A Portuguese language portal would not only help U.S. travel suppliers and destinations hoping to tap into the market; it is necessary. At the moment, the top travel-related website among Brazilians is Hotel Urbano, an OTA established in 2013 that offers airline tickets as well as complete travel packages.
The Brazil market will be featured in the upcoming Inbound Symposium on May 6 at the Wyndham New Yorker hotel in New York City. There, Celyta Jackson, a partner in Miami-based Alban Communications—will provide a candid assessment of the leading tour operators in the country. Jackson, who speaks English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and German, and was once (1998-2002) vice president of tourism for New York City & Company, has had extensive experience in the market. The Symposium will open NAJ’s RTO Summit-East, which takes place May 6-7. For more information, visit www.rtosummit.com.