Brazil's Minas Gerais Wins BTOA's Destination of the Year

Travel Agent attended a luncheon yesterday, June 29, where the Brazil Tour Operators Association (BTOA) introduced the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais as its 2010 Destination of the Year.

We spoke with Adam Carter, president of BTOA, who filled us in on the subject. "The Destination of the Year is used as a promotional platform in the U.S. One of Brazil's 26 states is voted on by our Board of Directors to be featured," he told us. The program is in its third year. The previous two winners were the states of Bahia (2008) and Pernambuco (2009).

So why Minas Gerais? We also spoke with Daniel Anilton Duarte Marques, director of events for the Government of the State of Minas Gerais. According to Marques, Minas Gerais is an epicenter for history, culture, food, shopping and hotels. There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the state as well as national parks, spas, rural and adventure tourism. If you want a taste of quaint, untouched Brazil meets contemporary cities with modern luxuries, then Minas Gerais is the state to visit.

Getting there: In 2008 American Airlines launched direct flights from Miami to Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais. The state is also a 50-minute flight from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, making it an easy place to getaway to for even a weekend if your home base is in either city.

"The American market is the number one arrival market for Brazil, making up 50 percent of arrivals, all thanks to the direct flights," Marques tells us in a one-on-one. "Before 2008 the number of American arrivals was just 6.5 percent. That number has increased to 50 percent."



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