Brazil saw a record number of international tourists in 2016, boosted by the first Olympic Games held in South America, official data showed on Wednesday. A total 6.6 million international travelers visited Brazil last year, the tourism ministry said, 4.8% higher than the year before.
They injected US$6.2 billion into the Brazilian economy, compared to US$5.84 billion in 2015.
Brazil is the most popular destination in Latin America but lags far behind the world’s top 10 popular destinations, according to United Nations figures for 2015. France was the world’s most popular tourist destination in the world with 84.5 million visitors in 2015, the United Nations said.
“We still have a lot to do to benefit in an efficient manner from the image legacy of the Olympic Games,” Brazil’s Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão said in a statement.
Of those who visited Brazil last year, 95% intended to return, according to a tourism ministry survey
Beltrao said this balance was very positive and showed the country could take advantage of such big events. “The numbers are very positive. In comparison with the international situation, we could still grow significantly. But we have shown we can learn how to take on mega-events in our country,” he pointed out.
The largest source of visitors was Argentina, which saw 2.1 million tourists arrive in Brazil. The US comes in second place, with around 600,000 visitors, followed by Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, France, Germany, Italy, England, Portugal and Spain.
Beltrao said that the government hoped to see a 6% rise in foreign travelers, similar to other countries the year after they held the Olympic Games.