While Brazil was most recently in the news for the 2018 Summer Olympics, a new e-visa program has been a real driver in travel to the destination.
“The visa change has definitely helped,” says Avanti Destinations’ Chief Marketing Officer John Hanratty. “Our room nights are up 30 to 40 percent.”
The new program, which began in January, allows the entire visa process for travelers from the U.S. to be conducted online within an estimated 72 hours. Previously, travelers had been forced to make an appointment at a Brazilian consulate.
Darshika Jones, regional director for North America for Intrepid Travel, also notes that the long-awaited opening of Brazil’s Museum of Image and Sound (MIS) is set for 2019 in Rio de Janeiro. Taking design inspiration from the city’s iconic Copacabana Beach, the new museum will be conceived as an extension of that area’s boulevard, with a “vertical boulevard” that flows into indoor and outdoor spaces housing galleries, education programs and public lecture spaces.
One limiting factor?
“Airfares in South America are still higher, in many cases, than, say, a flight to Europe,” says Hanratty. “There’s an element of sticker shock.”
“In many cases countries are trying to protect their national carriers,” says Avanti Owner and Executive Chairman Paul Barry. “There are some cracks in there, though.”
Barry pointed to Norwegian, a low-cost transatlantic carrier that now flies into Argentina as one example. Additionally, JetBlue Founder David Neelman — who is Brazilian-American — is reportedly launching another low-cost carrier, Moxy.
As first reported by airline trade journal Airline Weekly earlier this summer, Moxy will target secondary airports in the United States, such as Stewart and Republic airports in the New York City area and Milwaukee and Gary, Indiana, airports to service the Chicago area. The airline is targeting a 2020 launch date, with its full fleet to be delivered by 2024.
In hotel news, a number of new luxury properties are making their debut. The Four Seasons Hotel São Paulo at Nações Unidas is set to open later this year. That city is also getting a new Nobu hotel — the brand’s first in South America — and, in 2021, Six Senses will make its own South American debut in the country with the Six Senses Formosa Bay in Brazil’s easternmost territory.
Also new in Brazil, luxury tour company Red Savannah offers travelers the option to embark on Peralta – the first luxury expedition boat in Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland. Peralta offers guests an “on-water” view, or for those preferring land, the Araras Eco Lodge provides comfort as part of the Brazil Wildlife Adventure itinerary. Highlights of the trip include exploring the Amazon rainforest during nocturnal walks and observing the region’s wildlife, navigating the flooded forests and tributaries of the Amazon by canoe, and taking a cable car to visit the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio.