Brazil to tap eco-tourism potential in debut show


BRAZIL will make its debut at this month's Arabian Travel Market, the Middle East's premier travel and tourism exhibition, in Dubai.

The Brazilian Arab Chamber of Commerce will set up a pavilion at the show.

"We expect to have representatives from Embratur, the official Brazilian tourism organisation, as well as leading hoteliers and major Brazilian tour operators on the stand," said Michel Abdo Alaby, Secretary General and Foreign Trade Director, Brazilian Arab Chamber of Commerce.

"We can see potential for outbound tourism to Brazil from the Middle East but also considerable inbound tourism in the opposite direction. Brazil has a large Arab community of nine million, many of whom want to revisit their roots and though many come from the Levantine region, stop-overs in the Gulf are a distinct possibility."

Alaby said the Brazilian promotion at Arabian Travel Market 2001, will focus largely on the country's eco-tourism and sports training opportunities.

"Brazil is now a world leader in eco-tourism, particularly in the Amazon and Pantanal areas," said Alaby.

"The Pantanal marshes make the world's largest flooded area and one which is inhabited by a great variety of wildlife. There's also Bonito, a city surrounded by crystal waters with many grottos and caverns, which are almost perfectly conserved.

"Though Brazil is a great distance from the Middle East, we believe our eco-tourism programmes will appeal to many Europeans and Americans residing in the region as well as the considerable number of young Middle East nationals who are pursuing education in the USA."

According to Alaby, Brazil's fame as a breeding ground for soccer stars has seen the country host five-star football training resorts, some with up to 25 kilometres of beach.

"Soccer teams from Saudi Arabia and Oman have already utilised Brazilian training facilities and we see this as a specialised but high potential sector," said Alaby.

Tourist sector investment opportunities will also come under the spotlight at the Brazilian stand.

"There are good opportunities for Middle East investors in the Brazilian tourism industry with no restrictions, the ability to repatriate profits and with some regions offering incentives, such as preferential land leases or tax exemptions," said Alaby.

Brazil's official Arabian Travel Market participation comes as the country's trade with the Middle East is on the increase.

"Last year Brazil exported $1 billion worth of goods to the region, mainly poultry, paper, steel, foodstuffs, coffee, furniture and footwear," said Alaby.