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Over 111,000 Americans visited Brazil for the FIFA World Cup this past summer, making the U.S. the second largest international source market for the event following Argentina.
No one, least of all the Brazilians, expected such a high level of interest from the Americans, both in terms of inbound visitation and television viewership at home. In the United States, 26.5 million Americans watched the final championship game between Argentina and Germany.
Overall, 1.035 million foreigners visited Brazil during the World Cup, arriving from 203 countries between May 23 to July 13. The average stay for international visitors was 13 days; the average for Americans was 15 days.
“So now we want to invite Americans back to Brazil who came for the World Cup and want to see more of our country, as well as people who saw the 12 different destinations on television but weren’t able to visit,” said Vicente Neto, president of the Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur), during a recent interview with Skift via a translator in Miami.
“The American market is definitely a priority for us, especially because they spend the most when they travel,” he continued. “It’s because of the World Cup that we realized this needed to become a priority.”
The tourism board’s official invitation for Americans to come visit Brazil is arriving in a three-pronged, integrated marketing campaign, kicking off with a multimillion dollar digital advertising series launching later this month.
“The theme of the advertising campaign in September is about inviting U.S. visitors back to Brazil, who admired the warmth of the Brazilian people during the World Cup,” said Neto. “We know they enjoyed their visit, so we want to remind them that there are many other destinations in Brazil to choose from.”
Brazil Beyond Rio
The World Cup this year was hosted at 12 different sites throughout the country, stretching from Rio de Janeiro to Manaus in the Amazon, which is a record number of venues for the global sporting event. The new marketing campaign will showcase those destinations again in an attempt to reaffirm the country’s diversity of tourism product.
Neto said that previous to the World Cup, many Americans often equated Brazil mostly with the iconic images of Rio de Janeiro and the Amazon. That perception, he suggests, is slowly evolving thanks to all of the recent media attention surrounding the World Cup.
Neto also acknowledged other valuable media attention, such as Anthony Bourdain’s recent season finale taped in Brazil’s colonial Bahia province, and the media relations work accomplished by the three new Brazil tourism offices that opened last year in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
However, Neto asserts there is still much to communicate, not just about the different destinations, but also about all of the new hotel infrastructure facilitating intra-regional travel. Brazil will have over 400 new hotels operating by 2016, with an estimated total investment of $5.5 billion injected into the Brazilian tourism market.
Neto added that 61% of international visitors surveyed during the World Cup were visiting Brazil for the first time, with exit polls reporting that 95% of those visitors hoped to return. Over 98% approved of Brazilian hospitality, and 93% gave a thumbs up for Brazil’s culinary scene.
The second phase of Embratur’s national marketing campaign launches in January next year, focusing on the Olympic Games and Brazil as a sporting capital of the Americas. Neto explains that many Brazilian and international tourism companies, in partnership with Brazil’s national tourism organization, are developing value-added travel packages combining the 12 major destinations to make it easier for tourists to book multi-destination itineraries.
Rock in Rio USA
First launched in 1985, Rock in Rio is one of the world’s largest concert festivals, taking place over the last three decades both in Rio de Janeiro and Spain/Portugal. For the first time ever, Rock in Rio USA swings into Las Vegas for two weekends of concerts in May 2015, anchored at the outdoor “City of Rock” venue at MGM Las Vegas and smaller VIP events up and down the Strip.
The international musical lineup at previous festivals has ranged from big name acts like the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce to high-wattage Portuguese and Latin American rappers including Da Weasel and Marcelo D2, respectively. Plans are also in development to expand Rock in Rio into the Middle East and Asia in coming years.
According to Neto, the Rock in Rio event in Las Vegas is expected to bring a new level of exposure to Rio de Janeiro, and Brazil in general, to a whole new demographic of visitors who may not have considered Brazil as a travel destination before. As the third prong of Brazil’s national marketing campaign, Rock in Rio should have a major impact on U.S. travel bookings prior to the Olympic Games due to all of the ancillary entertainment and lifestyle media resulting from the many concerts.
That includes bookings from the meetings and convention market. A total of 870 business-related meetings and conferences took place during the World Cup, resulting in over $3 billion worth of new business.
“We just had a seminar last week about, how can we generate more international business events in Brazil,” said Neto. “Each of the 14 convention bureaus is working with us to explain what their strengths are and what international events they’re trying to attract. The government is assessing all of them to see which ones it can sponsor to help incentivize participation, because as you saw during the World Cup, Brazil has proven that it can host large international events very successfully.”
Here’s a look at some of the reviews from World Cup visitors from around the world: