Tourism in Brazil

Tourism in Brazil is a growing sector and key to the economy of several regions of Brazil. The country had 6.589 million visitors in 2018, ranking in terms of the international tourist arrivals as the second main destination in South America after Argentina and third in Latin America after Mexico and Argentina.[2] Revenues from international tourists reached US$5.8 billion in 2015, continuing a recovery trend from the 2008–2009 economic crisis.[3]

Rio de Janeiro, the most visited destination in Brazil by foreign tourists for leisure trips, and second place for business travel.
Sancho Bay, Fernando de Noronha, elected the most beautiful beach in the world by TripAdvisor.[1]

Brazil offers for both domestic and international tourists an ample range of options, with natural areas being its most popular tourism product, a combination of leisure and recreation, mainly sun and beach, and adventure travel, as well as historic and cultural tourism. Among the most popular destinations are the Amazon Rainforest, beaches and dunes in the Northeast Region, the Pantanal in the Center-West Region, beaches at Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina, cultural and historic tourism in Minas Gerais and business trips to São Paulo city.[4]

In terms of the 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which is a measurement of the factors that make it attractive to develop business in the travel and tourism industry of individual countries, Brazil ranked in the 28th place at the world's level, third in the Americas, after Canada and United States.[5][6] Brazil main competitive advantages are its natural resources, which ranked 1st on this criteria out of all countries considered, and ranked 23rd for its cultural resources, due to its many World Heritage sites. The 2013 TTCI report also notes Brazil's main weaknesses: its ground transport infrastructure remains underdeveloped (ranked 129th), with the quality of roads ranking in the 121st place, and quality of air transport infrastructure in 131st; and the country continues to suffer from a lack of price competitiveness (ranked 126th), due in part to high and increasing ticket taxes and airport charges, as well as high and rising prices more generally. Safety and security improved significantly between 2008 and 2013, moving from 128th to 73rd place,[6] before slipping to 106th by 2017.[7]

Foreign tourists mainly come from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, the United States, Canada, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Chile, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, and Russia.

International tourism

Historical international tourism arrivals
Year International

According to the World Tourism Organization), international travel to Brazil began to grow fast since 2000, particularly during 2004 and 2005. However, in 2006 a slow down took place, and international arrivals have had almost no growth both in 2007 and 2008.[10][13][18][19] In spite of this trend, revenues from international tourism continued to rise, from USD 3.9 billion in 2005 to USD 4.9 billion in 2007, a one billion dollar increase despite 333 thousand less arrivals. This favorable trend is the result of the strong devaluation of the American dollar against the Brazilian real, which began in 2004, but on the other hand, making Brazil a more expensive international destination.[20] This trend changed in 2009, when both visitors and revenues fell as a result of the 2008-2009 economic crisis.[15] By 2010, the industry recovered, and arrivals grew above 2006 levels to 5.16 million international visitors, and receipts from these visitors reached USD 5.9 billion.[16] In 2012, the historical record was reached with 5.6 million visitors and US$6.6 billion in receipts.[3]

Despite continuing record breaking of international tourism revenues, the number of Brazilian tourists travelling overseas has been growing steadily since 2003, resulting in a net negative foreign exchange balance, as more money is spent abroad by Brazilian than receipts from international tourist visiting Brazil. Tourism expenditures abroad grew from USD 5.76 billion in 2006, to USD 8.21 billion in 2007, a 42,45% increase, representing a net deficit of USD 3.26 billion in 2007, as compared to USD 1.45 billion in 2006, a 125% increase from the previous year.[21] This trend is caused by Brazilians taking advantage of the stronger Real to travel and making relatively cheaper expenditures abroad.[21] Brazilian traveling overseas in 2006 represented 3.9% of the country's population.[22]

In 2005, tourism contributed with 3.2% of the country's revenues from exports of goods and services, and represented 7% of direct and indirect employment in the Brazilian economy.[23] In 2006, direct employment in the sector reached 1.87 million people.[24] Domestic tourism is a fundamental market segment for the industry, as 51 million traveled throughout the country in 2005,[25] and direct revenues from Brazilian tourists reached USD 21.8 billion,[26] 5.6 times more receipts than international tourists in 2005.

In 2005, Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçu, São Paulo, Florianópolis, and Salvador were the most visited cities by international tourists for leisure trips. The most popular destinations for business trips were São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre.[27] In 2006, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza were the most popular destinations by national visitors.[28]

Main destinations visited by international leisure tourists in 2019[29] Top 15 ranking by number of visitors
1stRio de JaneiroRJ
3rdFoz do IguaçuPR
4thSão PauloSP
5thArmação dos BúziosRJ
8thAngra dos ReisRJ
9thBalneário CamboriúSC
Main destinations visited by national leisure tourists in 2020[30] Top 10 ranking by number of visitors
1stRio de JaneiroRJ
2ndSão PauloSP
7thFoz do IguaçuPR
8thPorto de GalinhasPE

Arrivals by country of origin

Top 20 visitor arrivals to Brazil by country of origin in 2012[31] - 2016[32]
of origin
 % Total
of origin
 % Total
1 Argentina2,294,9001,671,604 37.3%11 Spain147,846180,406 -18.0%
2 United States570,350586,463 -2.7%12 Bolivia138,106112,639 22.6%
3 Paraguay316,714246,401 28.5%13 Colombia135,192100,324 34.8%
4 Chile311,813250,586 24.4%14 Peru114,27691,996 24.2%
5 Uruguay284,113253,864 11.9%15 Mexico94,60961,658 53.4%
6 France263,774218,626 20.7%16 Japan79,75473,102 9.1%
7 Germany221,513258,437 -14.3%17 Netherlands72,26873,133 -1.2%
8 United Kingdom202,671155,548 30.3%18 Canada70,10368,462 2.4%
9 Italy181,493230,114-21.1%19  Switzerland69,07469,571 -0.7%
10 Portugal149,968168,649 -11.1%20 Australia49,80943,161 15.4%
Visitor arrivals by region of origin in 2016 (Top 4)
1South America3,732,7222,822,519 32.2%3North America735,062716,583 2.6%
2Europe1,606,4951,652,205 -2.8%4Asia304,786297,032 2.6%

Comparison with other Latin American destinations

The following is a comparative summary of Brazil's tourism industry key performance indicators as compared with countries considered among the most popular destinations in Latin America, and relevant economic indicators are included to show the relative importance that international tourism has on the economy of the selected countries.

Caribbean and
Latin American
(col 2)/(col 1)
per 1000 pop.
as %
of exports
goods and
as %
 % Direct &
in tourism[6][23]
 Costa Rica2,3432,4251,03544234317.512.511.7474.44
 Dominican Republic4,5634,54999740835336.214.713.6863.88
 Jamaica1,9862,0431,02962853049.225.723.8 674.08
  • Notes: Green shadow denotes the country with the top indicator. Yellow shadow corresponds to Brazilian indicators.
    (1) Visitors and receipts for Cuba correspond to 2011..

Tourist visa

Arraial do Cabo, Rio de Janeiro.

Tourist visa requirements have been waived for citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Surinam, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela.

Tourist visas also applies to lecturers at conferences, for visiting relatives and/or friends, unpaid participation in athletic or artistic event or competition (in this case an invitation letter from the sponsoring organization in Brazil is required), and unpaid participation in a scientific/academic seminar or conference sponsored by a research or academic institution (in this case an invitation letter from the sponsoring organization in Brazil is required).[34]

Paleontological tourism

Tourism in Paleorrota Geopark

Geopark Paleorrota is the main area of geotourism in Rio Grande do Sul and one of the most important in Brazil. With 83,000 km² inside 281,000 km² of the state, where many fossils of the Permian and Triassic period, with ages ranging between 210 and 290 million years ago, when there were only the continent Pangaea.

In the region Metropolitan Porto Alegre there are 5 museums to visit. In Paleorrota Geopark there are 7 museums, the Palaeobotanical Garden in Mata and the Paleontological Sites of Santa Maria to be visited. The BR-287, nicknamed Highway of Dinosaurs, crosses 17 of 41 municipalities of the geopark.


Map latitudinal gradient of biodiversity (Mannion 2014), indicating the biodiversity richness of Brazil

Some ecotourism is present in Brazil's Pantanal and the Amazon rainforest. In the Pantanal, there is the Araras Eco Lodge and the Jaguar Ecological Reserve.[35] In the Amazon rainforest, an ecotourism project had been under consideration by Brazil's State Secretary for the Environment and Sustainable Development in 2009, along the Aripuanã river, in the Aripuanã Sustainable Development Reserve.[36] Also, some community-based ecotourism exists in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve.[37]

Domestic tourism

Amazon Rainforest in Manaus, is a popular ecotourism destination.

Domestic tourism is a key market segment for the tourism industry in Brazil. In 2005, 51 million Brazilian nationals[25] made ten times more trips than foreign tourists and spent five times more money than their international counterparts. The main destination states in 2005 were São Paulo (27.7%), Minas Gerais (10.8%), Rio de Janeiro (8.4%), Bahia (7.4%), and Santa Catarina (7.2%). The top three states by trip origin were São Paulo (35.7%), Minas Gerais (13.6%).[25]

In terms of tourism revenues, the top earners by state were São Paulo (16.4%) and Bahia (11.7%). For 2005, the three main trip purposes were visiting friends and family (53.1%), sun and beach (40.8%), and cultural tourism (12.5%).[22]

Tourism by regions of Brazil

Iguazu Falls, Paraná, in Brazil-Argentina border, is the second most popular destination for foreign tourists who come to Brazil for pleasure.
São Paulo, the financial capital of Brazil is one of the most sought after places in tourism by having different cultures and races.
The colonial city of Ouro Preto, a World Heritage Site, is one of the most popular destinations in Minas Gerais.
Chapada Diamantina.
Natal, Rio Grande do Norte.

Southeast Region

Southern Region

Center-West Region

Northeast Region

North Region

See also


  1. O Globo (18 March 2014). "Praia de Fernando de Noronha é eleita a mais bonita do mundo". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  3. "UNWTO Tourism Highlights, 2013 Edition" (PDF). World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). June 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2014-04-14. pp. 10
  4. Guilherme Lohmann Palhares (2012). Tourism in Brazil: Environment, Management and Segments. Routledge. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-415-67432-4.
  5. "The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015" (PDF). World Economic Forum. May 2015.
  6. Jennifer Blanke and Thea Chiesa, Editors (2013). "Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013" (PDF). World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved 2013-04-14. See Table 4, pp. 18-19 and Country/Economy Profile: Brazil, pp. 116-117.
  7. "The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017" (PDF). World Economic Forum. April 2017.
  8. World Tourism Organization (2005). "Tourism Market Trends, Annex 5, 2005 Edition" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-20. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  9. World Tourism Organization (2006). "Tourism Market Trends, Annex 12, 2006 Edition" (PDF). (Data corresponds to 2005). Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  10. World Tourism Organization (2007). "UNWTO Tourism Highlights, Edition 2007" (PDF). UNWTO. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  11. EMBRATUR (2008). "Principais Emissores de Turistas para o Brasil 2006-2007" (in Portuguese). Ministério de Turismo. Archived from the original on 2011-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
  12. Facultade Getúlio Vargas (2008). "Boletim de Desempenho Econômico do Turismo" (in Portuguese). Ministério de Turismo. Archived from the original on 2011-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-19. Janeiro 2008, Ano v, nº 17, pp. 2
  13. EMBRATUR (2009). "Anuário Estatístico de Turismo 2009" (in Portuguese). Ministério de Turismo. Retrieved 2008-09-05. See tables 1.1 and 3.8
  14. Adair de Oliveira Júnior (2009-01-27). "Gasto de turistas estrangeiros registra recorde em 2008". Centro de Excelência em Turismo, UNB. Retrieved 2008-02-01. Source Brazilian Central Bank
  15. "UNTWO Tourism Highlights 2010 Edition". World Tourism Organization. 2010. Archived from the original on 2013-06-07. Retrieved 2010-10-31. Click on the link "UNWTO Tourism Highlights" to access the pdf report.
  16. "UNWTO Tourism Highlights - 2011 Edition" (PDF). World Tourism Organization. June 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
  17. ""UNWTO Tourism Highlights, 2015 Edition". World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Archived from the original on 2017-10-24. Retrieved 2017-11-15. pp.10
  18. World Tourism Organization (2008). "UNWTO World Tourism Barometer June 2008" (PDF). UNWTO. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2008-08-08. Data corresponds to 2007
  19. The World Tourism Organization. "Tourism Highlights 2006 [pdf]" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2006-01-06.
  20. Facultade Getúlio Vargas (2007). "Boletim de Desempenho Econômico do Turismo" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Ministério de Turismo. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-06-21. Fevereiro 2007, Ano IV, nº 13, pp. 3
  21. Facultade Getúlio Vargas (2008). "Pesquisa Anual de Conjuntura Econômica do Turismo" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Ministério de Turismo. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-06-22. Março 2008, Ano IV, pp. 11
  22. Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas e EMBRATUR (2006). "Caracterização e Dimensionamento do Turismo Domêstico no Brasil 2002 e 2006: Metodologia e Desenvolvimento" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Ministério do Turismo. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2008-06-22.
  23. Carmen Altés (2006). "El Turismo en América Latina y el Caribe y la experiencia del BID" (in Spanish). Inter-American Development Bank; Sustainable Development Department, Technical Paper Series ENV-149, Washington, D.C. p. 9 and 47. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  24. Margerida Coelho (2008). "Distribução Espacial da Ocupação no Setor de Turismo: Brasil e Regiões" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada. Retrieved 2008-06-22.
  25. Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas (2007). "Caracterização e Dimensionamento do Turismo Domêstico no Brasil 2002 e 2006" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Ministério do Turismo. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
  26. Diretoria de Turismo (2006). "Boletim Anual São Paulo Turismo" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Prefeitura de São Paulo. Retrieved 2008-11-20.[dead link] see 2.1.3 "Receitas setor trurístico 2005".
  27. EMBRATUR (2006). "Anúario Estatístico Volume 33 2006" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Ministério do Turismo. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-09. Retrieved 2008-06-22. Tables 4.1 a 4.4: Summary Brasil by trip purpose 2004-2005
  28. "Aguarde, estamos redirecionando o site". Retrieved 2013-10-02.
  29. Statistical Yearbook for Tourism 2020 base year 2019, page 331 of the PDF file (in Portuguese)
  30. Rio de Janeiro was the most sought after city by Brazilians in 2020 (in Portuguese)
  31. Ministério de Turismo (2013). "Anuário Estatístico de Turismo 2013" [Tourism Statistic Yearbook 2013] (PDF) (in Portuguese). Ministério de Turismo. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2014-04-18. Year base 2012. See Table 1.1: Tourist Arrivales to Brazil
  32. "Anuário Estatístico de Turismo 2017 - Ano Base 2016". Archived from the original on 2017-09-09. Retrieved 2017-09-09.
  33. United Nations. "UNData. Country profiles (1999-2005)". Retrieved 2008-08-08. Population estimated for 2007 (search values for each country profile)
  34. "Tourist Via - Brazil". Archived from the original on 2015-01-15. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
  35. Sustainable travel and ecotourism in Brazil
  36. Ecotourism could help the Amazon reduce deforestation and handle climate change