Brazil to offer visa exemption to several countries to boost tourism

Tourism ministry of Brazil is proposing a new visa exemption programme for several countries’ citizens, including America, with the expectation of attracting more foreign tourists, said Marx Beltrão, tourism minister.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, he said that the ministry plans to offer visa waivers to Canada, Australia, US and Japan, allowing their citizens to enter the South American country without a visa and would be on similar lines to a programme that facilitated smooth travel to Brazil during the Summer Olympics, which took place earlier this year. The ministry is said to considering adding other countries like China and others to the list, Beltrão said on 20 October.

Stating that the programme was currently being discussed with the other government agencies, he said that a final decision could be taken on the proposal by the end of this year. Beltrão said they would leverage the games’ legacy.

For getting a tourist visa from Brazil’s foreign ministry, several requirements are sought from citizens of many countries. They include proof of transport into and out of Brazil in addition to the payment of a $160 ‘reciprocity’ fee, the sum which Brazilians must pay to get a visa to the US.

On the other hand, citizens of lot countries, including Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and many nations in the Central and South America, don’t require a tourist visa to gain entry into Brazil.

Initially, the ministry plans on offering the waiver for 12 months, after which the government would decide to make it permanent depending on the impact it will have on the tourism sector, said Beltrão. Figures released initially show that more than 156,000 tourists visited Brazil from the four countries included in the visa exemption programme. Of these, 75 percent utilised the visa waiver programme and their spending was around $142.1 million, which surpassed the visa fees amounting to $18 million that Brazil had given up during the period, he said.

Beltrão declared that the ministry was also looking for a higher budget allocation for Embratur, official tourism board of Brazil, and a study on the financial impact of tax waiver on hotel occupations paid with various global credit cards.

A bill would also be proposed in order to create zones for special tourism interest in the former Portuguese colony to entice investment by extending tax and other incentives.

If that project gets approved, it is expected to attract investors and foreign visitors, including American citizens, who constitute less than 10 percent of the international tourists visiting Brazil. The US, however, is the second largest source country of tourists for Brazil, followed by Argentina, Beltrão said.

In 2015, 6.3 million foreign tourists entered Brazil, of whom 575,796 came from the US. Meanwhile, the largest nation of South America received 6.4 million international visitors in 2014, the year in which Brazil hosted the FIFA (Soccer) World Cup.

If you are looking to visit Brazil, approach Mahandru Associates to get advice and assistance to file for a visa

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