The new Air France-KLM flight hub inaugurated in early May at Fortaleza Airport promises great things for Ceará tourism. The sector is also set to benefit from increased domestic flights operated by GOL and a recent agreement on cruise ship itineraries. Add to this, Fortaleza’s position as the second-most sought-after tourist destination in Brazil for July, 2018 looks set to be an excellent year for Ceará tourism.
Direct flights to Paris and Amsterdam operated by the Air France-KLM flight hub began in early May and heralded a new dawn for Ceará tourism. Fortaleza Airport is currently experiencing big expansion and will run 47 direct international flights a week by the end of the year, up from just 14 at the start of 2018.
GOL airlines, a specialist in domestic flights within Brazil, has also upped its game at Fortaleza Airport. From 21 direct flights, the company will be operating 40 by the end of December and 50 by the end of next year. The Ceará tourism authorities are also in advanced talks with the airline about a flight connecting Fortaleza and Jeriococoara where an airport opened last year.
Fortaleza to be stopover
To make the most of the new flights from Paris and Amsterdam, the Ceará government is keen to create a stopover hub at Fortaleza. Tourists coming from Europe will have the opportunity to spend at least 24 hours in the Ceará capital before flying on to another destination in Brazil.
Talks are underway with the city’s hotels and restaurants in the bid to offer special rates for tourists choosing to stop over in Fortaleza. The Ceará tourist board, SETUR, has asked Brazilian embassies around the world to provide extra promotion of the city to boost its profile.
Ceará tourism to get more cruises
Ceará tourism isn’t just being driven by the increase in international and domestic flight routes. Cruise ship companies also have Fortaleza and Ceará on their radar. SETUR has just completed an agreement with Pullmantur to include Fortaleza on the Sovereign’s itinerary on its American and European routes during the 2019/20 season.
The Sovereign caters for almost 3,000 passengers so work is underway at the Fortaleza cruise port to upgrade infrastructure to offer services for larger cruise ships. The cruise sector within Ceará tourism remains small but is experiencing expansion. Fortaleza welcomed 12 ships with over 16,000 passengers during the 2017/18 season.
Fortaleza second favourite for July
Two separate travel companies have confirmed Fortaleza’s popularity for Brazilians on holiday. CVC, the largest tour operator in Latin America, announced that Fortaleza was the second most sought-after destination in Brazil in July on its portal. The Ceará capital came second to Maceió, also in Northeast Brazil. A separate Skyscanner survey revealed the same result. For July, Fortaleza was the second most searched for city for flights after Sao Paulo.
Meanwhile, the Ceará Hotel Association (ABIH-CE in Brazilian) released data on hotel occupancy in the city. According to their figures, Fortaleza hotels achieve an average of 82%.
Argentinians look to Ceará
Argentina features among the new international flights at Fortaleza Airport. Direct services already connect the Ceará capital with Buenos Aires and a flight to Cordoba will commence later this year.
Argentinians make up the largest proportion of international tourists to Brazil and have traditionally favoured Southeast Brazil. This trend seems, however, to be changing.
According to the secretary of SETUR Arialdo Pinho, quoted in O Povo broadsheet, Argentinian tourists are increasing attracted to Northeast Brazil. With its direct flights, Fortaleza would appear to be a natural choice, opening up yet another new horizon for Ceará tourism.
(Sources: O Povo, Diario do Nordeste)