Visitor figures for the first quarter of 2015 underline Ceará’s status as an up-and-coming tourist destination. The 30 per cent increase in number of foreign visitors confirms Ceará and its capital Fortaleza is one of northeast Brazil’s top holiday spots. On the back of these promising statistics, state tourism officials are in advanced negotiations with cruise companies and airlines to further the expansion of tourism in Ceará.
More passengers, new flights
From January to March this year, the number of foreigners visiting Ceará went up by 30 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2014. Airport passengers increased by 24 per cent to a total of 59,430. More than half arrived by direct flights – Fortaleza Airport offers flights to Argentina, Cape Verde, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Portugal and the US – with the rest on connecting flights from Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador.
Ceará tourism representatives are currently in advanced negotiations with the Portuguese airline TAM to secure Fortaleza as the company’s HUB in northeast Brazil. Fortaleza is one of the three candidates along with Natal and Recife to become TAM’s centre for flights between Brazil and Europe. Ceará officials believe Fortaleza is a particularly strong candidate because of recent and ongoing expansion of the airport and the increase in passenger figures. If successful, Fortaleza will offer 13 more direct flights to Europe and between 8,000 and 12,000 new jobs will be created by the time the hub is completed by the end of 2016.
At the recent Latin America World Travel Market held in Sao Paulo, delegates from Ceará tourism also held high-profile talks with the Brazilian representative of American Airlines regarding new business for Fortaleza. American Airlines plans a new route between Fortaleza and the US, although the US city is as yet unconfirmed, to start flying in 2016.
More cruisers, new routes
Ceará has two passenger ports, Mucuripe and Pecém, both relative newcomers to the cruising world but both increasing their popularity as stop-off destinations. Cruise passengers arriving in Fortaleza went up by a massive 103 per cent to a total of 6,314 foreigners on four cruise liners. Four further liners are scheduled for the rest of the year and Ceará tourism officials are negotiating two new routes in northeast Brazil. Both cruises will last seven days and end in Fortaleza. One would start in Santos and the other in Salvador.
Higher spending, more holiday lets
A glance of the profile of foreign visitors to Ceará shows relatively high spending and an increasing preference for holiday lets as accommodation. On average, every foreigner spent R$3,023 during their stay, which lasted seven days. Although the majority (over 70 per cent) chose hotel-type accommodation in Ceará, over a quarter opted to stay with family and friends or rent a holiday let, an option that is gaining ground in northeast Brazil (the number of Ceará holiday lets rose by 20 per cent in 2014).
Of the 67,681 foreigners visiting Ceará in Q1 this year, 42 per cent were on their first visit to this part of northeast Brazil. Nearly two-thirds said that they were very satisfied with their holiday experience and that Ceará had exceeded their expectations.
Source: Ceará state government and tourist department