The arrival of the Air France/KLM hub at Fortaleza Airport in May has already opened up new horizons for tourism in Ceará. Advanced conversations are underway to bring more Chinese visitors to the state as well as direct flights between Fortaleza and London and Casablanca. This, together with the recently added direct service to Panama City, shows that the Northeast Brazil state has big plans to expand its international profile.
Chinese tourism in Ceará
The Ceará state tourist board, SETUR, has had several meetings with the Brazilian tourism authorities, Embratur, with the view to raising the state’s profile among Chinese tourists. Brazil has yet to feature significantly on the Chinese holiday destination radar, but the number of Chinese visitors went up by 61,000 in 2017. The rise is higher than that for countries such as the Netherlands and Venezuela, both of which have direct flights to Brazil.
SETUR plan to set up Fortaleza as a stop-over for Chinese tourists on their way to Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo. Using flights from Peking or Shanghai to Amsterdam or Paris and then on to Fortaleza, the visitors would spend around 45 hours in the city. The stay would give them a chance to experience the many tourist attractions in Ceará.
New direct flights
Copa Airlines inaugurated its first direct flight between Panama City and Fortaleza Airport in late July. The twice-weekly service is the latest in a long list of new international flights linking Fortaleza with cities around the world.
According to O Povo broadsheet, Norwegian Airlines is in advanced conversations with the Brazilian Civil Aviation authorities (Anac) for a direct flight between Fortaleza and London. If the airline’s bid is successful, it would be the first low-cost airline to operate flights between Brazil and Europe. Services could start as soon as the beginning of November in time for the Christmas and New Year period, one of the busiest for tourism in Ceará.
For its part, Diario do Nordeste reported talks between Anac and Royal Air Maroc. The Moroccan airline plans to introduce direct flights between Casablanca and Fortaleza, which would be the first service between Ceará and the African mainland. Flights to the Cabo Verde islands are already available.
Tourism in Ceará is already reaping the results of the flight hub at Fortaleza Airport. Direct services between Miami and Florida are behind the 66.98% increase in visitors from the US to the state between January and May this year. In the first six months of this year, passengers on international flights totalled 138,836, up 28.4% on the same period in 2016.
Setur officials reported that the flight hub has been a huge success with much higher occupancy than expected. They even went as far as to predict daily flights between Fortaleza and Amsterdam and Paris in the space of a year.
The uptick in tourism in Ceará is also expected to have a very positive knock-on effect in other sectors of the economy. The export of Ceará goods and produce has increased and the authorities also forecast a rise in the number of holiday home buyers over the next year. High-end beach resorts will be in particularly high demand as interest in this type of property grows, among both Brazilian and international investors.
(Sources: Diario do Nordeste, O Povo)