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Brazil Travel and Tourism

Florida's tourism gets a boost from a Brazilian invasion  December 14, 2021 – 11:17 pm
Brazil is fastest growing travel and tourism economy in Latam; 7.8

And there's no sign of this Brazilian invasion slowing down: The U.S. Commerce Department projects 1.5 million Brazilians will visit the United States in 2012 - and most of them will head to Florida.

Floridians are used to seeing Brazilian tour groups marching through outlet malls and theme parks, usually dressed in matching T-shirts in single-file lines behind their leader. These Brazilian tourists are usually loaded with cash and ready to clear the shelves of the name-brand outlets. That's because even at regular price, many goods and services in the United States are much cheaper than in Brazil, where tariffs, taxes and transportation costs can mean higher prices.

"We [took] about 15, 000 passengers on shopping tours, and they on average spend about $300 to $400 each person, " said Claudia Menezes, vice president of Pegasus Transportation. And those were just the Brazilian tour groups visiting outlet malls and theme parks in South Florida and Orlando.

Cash-flush Brazilians are looking for deals, and Miami is the place to find them. CNN's John Zarrella reports.

President Obama unveils a plan to boost tourism at Disney World ahead of the GOP primary in Florida later this month.

Menezes says she expects her business to double in 2012. That could be a conservative estimate as the United States plans to expand its global entry program, which aims to speed up the visa approval process for international visitors.

President Obama announced the expansion of the plan last week at a news conference at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. He said he hopes to make it easier for visitors from countries "with rapidly growing economies, huge populations and emerging middle classes" like Brazil and China to visit the United States. He said he wants the plan expanded "this year."

He said Brazil was "especially important for Florida" because it has "a huge population that loves to come to Florida ... but we make it too hard for them."

"We want them spending money here, in Orlando, in Florida in the United States of America, which will boost our businesses and our economy, " he said.

It's a long process for many Brazilians to get to the United States: On average, people have to wait 76 days just to get an interview at the largest U.S. consulate in Brazil, in Sao Paulo. And with only four U.S. consular offices in a country that is bigger than the continental United States, a lot of Brazilians trying to visit the U.S. must travel long distances for their interview. As a result, many are opting to travel to Europe because the visa process is easier.

Menezes says her tour business depends on the United States improving its visa process:

"If they make it easier, it would be even more people coming here, " she said.

On a recent afternoon at the Orlando Premium Outlets near Disney World, one of the hottest-selling items among the Brazilian tourists is luggage. They buy the suitcases, then stuff them with recently purchased shoes, clothing, bags and electronics until the luggage is almost bursting at the seams.

That kind of spending has translated into billions of dollars in revenue for the United States. In 2010, Brazilian visitors spent nearly $6 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services, nearly 30% more than the prior year, according to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department. It's a trend that has been going on since 2003 and has, according to the report, "propelled Brazil up the rankings to become the fifth largest international market for U.S. travel and tourism-related exports."

You can spot Brazilian tourists in Florida by their matching T-shirts and large tour buses.

Florida's retailers aren't the only ones getting an economic boost: Many of Central Florida's numerous theme parks have also seen a large increase in Brazilian tourists. Disney World says 2011 was a record-breaking year for Brazilian guests at its parks.

As a result, Disney hired 54 Portuguese-speaking "Super Greeters, " most of them from Brazil, to assist Brazilian tour groups throughout Disney's parks.

SeaWorld Orlando has seen a steady increase in guests from Brazil over the past five years, says Peter Frey, senior marketing officer with SeaWorld Parks.


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