Brazilian Carnival Celebrations Reflect Tourism Rebound

Brian Major

by Brian Major
Last updated: 1:25 PM ET, Sun February 11, 2024

This year, Brazil’s Carnival celebrations are expected to host 200,000 international tourists who are expected to contribute $200 million in revenue to the South American nation, said officials at Embratur, Brazil’s state-owned tourist board.

The annual festival resumed last year after a two-year pandemic shutdown. Embratur and Rio de Janeiro officials have since inked a partnership with the United Nations World Tourism Agency (UNWTO) to create a “Tourism Sustainability Index” to measure “the impacts of Rio Carnival on the city’s production chain over the course of a year,” officials said.

The sustainability index is based on UNWTO’s guidelines for Tourism Sustainability Monitoring and will “serve as a future reference for other tourist cities in Brazil,” said officials, to “contribute to Embratur in generating intelligence.”

In 2023, Brazil surpassed its pre-pandemic arrivals, with approximately six million international visitors, a three percent increase over 2019 totals and a 62.7 percent increase over the 3.6 million visitors hosted in 2022.

“[Brazil has] overcome the difficult period of the Covid pandemic,” said Marcelo Freixo, Embratur’s president, “and are entering a time of dialogue, of reaffirmation of democracy [and] investment.”

Brazil’s carnival traditionally extends five days, although some events are held for an entire week in cities ranging from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador de Bahia.

Parades, street parties and a series of organized festivities began this year on February 9 and will end on February 13, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Added Freixo, “Brazil is ready, with open arms to welcome everyone.”

Rio de Janeiro’s international airport hosted a true Brazilian party to commemorate what was called #TurismoQueTransforma (#tourismthatchanges), marking the country’s momentum in the global stage: in 2023, foreign visitors left US$ 6.9 billion in the Brazilian economy. This amount surpasses the year 2014 when, during the World Cup in Brazil, the inflow of foreign exchange was US$ 6.8 billion, and is the highest since 1995.

According to EMBRATUR (Visit Brasil), Brazil’s Carnival 2024 should receive around 200 thousand international tourists and these visitors are expected to leave nearly US$ 200 million in revenue. To celebrate the result, a flight from Chilean SKY Airline, was chosen for a special reception, with a lot of music, food, and dance.

And there is more to be celebrated. In 2023, Brazil also recovered pre-pandemic rates in the entry tourists with approximately 6 million foreign visitors. The number was 3% above that estimated by the UNWTO and is also 62.7% higher than 2022 (3.6 million).

On the occasion, EMBRATUR and the city of Rio de Janeiro also signed an important partnership based on UNWTO’s guidelines for Tourism Sustainability Monitoring, with the aim of creating the “Tourism Sustainability Index in Rio de Janeiro”. The work will serve as a future reference for other tourist cities in Brazil, which will contribute to EMBRATUR in generating intelligence. Among the examples of studies, it will be possible to measure the impacts of Rio Carnival on the city’s production chain over the course of a year.

Another technical cooperation agreement was signed with Chilean SKY Airline, for sharing data and working together on actions to expand connectivity between Brazil and South America, with the launch of new routes and an increase in the frequency of existing ones.

“President Lula, at the beginning of 2023, said something that we use to talk about Brazil. He said that Brazil is back. The Brazil of democracy, sustainability, climate responsibility, culture, the appreciation of artists. And in 2024, he said that Brazil is taking off. We all should celebrate. We have overcome the difficult period of the COVID pandemic, of the absence of dialogue, of a radicalization that lead us nowhere, and we are entering a time of dialogue, of reaffirmation of democracy, of investment, and Brazil is ready, with open arms to welcome everyone”, said Marcelo Freixo, president of EMBRATUR (Visit Brasil).

Salvador Carnaval

Salvador is the capital of Bahia, located in northeast Brazil, whose population numbers about 14.9 million, making it the country’s fourth most populous state.

Salvador is considered the city with the largest black population outside of Africa and holds historic significance as Brazil’s initial capital, from 1549 to 1763.

Culturally, Bahia is a melting pot with indigenous, European, and especially African influences, which are evident in the state’s cuisine, dance, festivals, music, and spiritual practices.

Salvador’s Carnaval is a major tourist draw and is one of the state’s most prominent festivals. The event has been recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest street carnival, spanning seven circuits and twelve neighborhoods.

Salvador’s Carnaval features musical acts, festive parades, and dedicated spaces for dance, electronic tunes and even a rock music stage. The week-long jubilant occasion is a cherished time of revelry and unity.

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