According to Embratur president Vicente Neto, new tourism efforts will focus on selling spectator sports, Brazilian people and culture and Brazil’s Northeastern destinations. // © 2014 Lena Katz
Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Institute) president Vicente Neto paid an official visit to Miami for the opening of the 18th Brazilian Film Festival of Miami on Aug. 20. The other reason for his trip was to meet with media and update them on the success of the World Cup — specifically, some surprisingly positive U.S. results.
While pre-World Cup promotions had focused on Europe and Latin America, the United States ended up buying the highest number of tickets after Brazil. Even more surprisingly, more than 100,000 Americans attended the World Cup. The only country with more visitors to Brazil was the bordering country of Argentina.
As a result, Embratur has decided to redirect its focus to the North American continent. President Neto and his delegation shared preliminary details with TravelAge West that promise an exciting forecast for those selling Brazil in the U.S.
What are you doing for the remainder of 2014 to build on the goodwill and positive PR generated by the World Cup?
We start a new advertising campaign in September that will run until 2016. The main distribution channel will be digital media. It will showcase some of the destinations that were introduced during the World Cup, and invite people to come experience the great things about Brazil that they first discovered through World Cup images.
Can you discuss your five-year plan?
We are using sports and culture as key platforms to promote Brazil. The digital campaign will springboard off World Cup success in the beginning, and will gain momentum heading into the Olympics. Next year, Brazil will host the Indigenous Games. After that, we’ll continue into 2019 creating buzz around the University Games, the third-largest sporting event in the world after the World Cup and the Olympics. Hosting the 2019 University Games will cement Brazil’s position as the premier international host of sporting events.
What did you learn from the World Cup?
Our exit survey of 20,000 World Cup attendees revealed that the best feature of Brazil is the Brazilian people. Survey categories that got the highest grade were hospitality and gastronomy.
The slogan for our upcoming campaign is “Brasil Sensacional,” which will modify to “Brasil Sensacional Olympics” for Olympic-focused initiatives only. The tagline for the campaign is “Be like one of us.”
On the cultural promotional front, we will be sponsoring more events like this (the Brazilian Film Festival), which helps us promote Brazil through the power of cinema.
Are we going to see Brazil’s tourism PR become more proactive in promoting all these new initiatives, instead of largely reactive as it has been in the past?
It’s an important issue. The Brazilian Tourism Board and its offices are government entities. The format by which we do outreach is changing. Before, the policy was that Embratur couldn’t promote or collaborate with private-sector tourism businesses. A new policy being finalized this year will allow for cooperation and cross-initiatives between the government and the private sector. It will lead to a more proactive approach in PR and from a trade point of view. It will allow us to go out and promote packages and offerings in a more proactive way.
This year, you reopened the Brazil Tourist Office in Los Angeles. What can those in the West expect from the increased presence there?
In January of 2015, we’re going to start the trade portion of the Brasil Sensacional campaign, which will bring many workshops, road shows and other trade/media outreach to key cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas. We’ll be bringing famous athletes and cultural personalities, plus ramping up efforts to educate the trade on new Brazil products.
Also, thanks to the aforementioned policy changes allowing Embratur to collaborate with the private sector, the LA office will be able to partner with U.S.-based tour operators to do co-op campaigns.
What will Embratur do to expand its outreach to the West? Are any specific new markets targeted yet?
From a trade perspective, the first major example of government and private-sector collaboration will occur at IMEX this year. Embratur will sponsor several key private sector businesses from across Brazil to come in and promote tours, packages, hotels and so forth.
From a consumer-facing standpoint, we are excited to bring the major concert event, Rock in Rio, to Las Vegas in May 2015. As the main sponsor for Rock in Rio, Embratur is going to utilize this platform as a way to promote Brazilian destinations and culture. The official Rock in Rio launch announcement is slated to happen in Times Square, New York in September, taking over all of the billboards in that famous landmark.
You’ve said several times that sports will be a key platform for tourism promotion. How will you be increasing tourism offerings within the country to allow American visitors — who have fallen in love with Brazilian sports — to experience them first-hand?
As you will see in the upcoming digital campaign, the first part of the message is to tell people who watched the World Cup that they can come to Brazil and watch high-level Brazilian premier league soccer games at those stadiums seen on television. National spectator sporting events are very important domestically, but not so known to international tourists. We aim to change that, not just with soccer but other international sport franchises such as Formula One and Indy racing.
Also not perhaps known to U.S. consumers but certainly worth noting: A lot of the major European premier league soccer teams like AC Milan host training camps in Brazil, and already have visitor experiences on offer. The more intimate and oftentimes more expensive VIP experiences such as celebrity athlete meet-and-greets, behind-the-scenes tours and so forth are all private sector products. We will be partnering with the private sector to find different ways to promote travel packages that allow experiential opportunities for travelers.
Brazil already has worldwide recognition and has always promoted outdoor adventure sports, ecotourism and outdoor activities. It has long been a government initiative to promote offerings like canoeing, diving and snorkeling.
What are some Brazil regions other than Sao Paulo, Rio and the Amazon that you hope to introduce to North American travelers in the next two years?
There’s currently more interest in the Northeast because of the appeal of sunshine and beaches. Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza and Natal are all on people’s radars, and we hope to capitalize on that. Ecotourism is always an appealing sector — in this category, we’re pushing Bonito (in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul) and Chapada Diamantina National Park (in Bahia).