Lonely Planet Writer

Brazil says it hit Olympic tourism goal and prepares for post-Games boom

Of all the benefits the Olympic Games brings to a host country, tourism is right up there at the top of the list, and according to numbers released by the Brazilian tourism minister, Brazil gets a gold for tourism.

Hikers looking out over Rio from the Morro dos Cabritos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America.
Hikers looking out over Rio from the Morro dos Cabritos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America. Image by Alex Robinson

According to Reuters, Brazil’s forecast of an Olympian influx of 500,000 visitors was believed to be met, with 572,961 foreigners entering the country between 1 July and 15 August. This is a 38% increase over foreign entries from the same period in 2015. The number of entries include not only spectators and tourists, but athletes, volunteers and staff ahead of the Games and related events. According to a government survey, 84% of visitors arriving during this time-frame cited the Olympic Games as the primary reason for their trip. This gives the Brazilian Government what it believes are the numbers it had forecast, give or take a few tourists (84% of 572,961 is only 481,287).

Corcovado mountain.
Corcovado mountain. Image by Christian Heeb

Of course, Brazil made things pretty attractive for visitors surrounding the summer games. It temporarily waived visa requirements for nationalities who need them between 1 June and 1 September. This saved Americans $160 each and they made up the bulk of non-Brazilian ticket sales as well as visitor numbers (the neighbouring Argentines and Britons rounded out the top three). “In the second week of the Olympic Games, we had double the usual number of tourists,” says Eduardo Cruxen, who co-owns Brazil Expedition, which specialises in local tours. “There were a lot of Americans in Rio – around 40% of our clients! We doubled our revenues in comparison with August of the previous year. It was like an off-season Carnival!”

Aerial panorama of Christ and Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Aerial panorama of Christ and Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Image by marchello74

The tourism bump is expected to continue well after the Olympic games as well, with Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism anticipating a 6% increase in the number of visitors to the country over the next year. With satisfaction numbers clocking in at 83.1% of surveyed foreign tourists who declared their experience of Rio either met or exceeded their expectations, the government is hoping that will translate into repeat future visits.

And, well, those beaches don’t hurt, either.