Figures released by Ceará tourism authorities for the forthcoming high season point to the busiest period ever for the Northeast Brazil state. Ceará expects to welcome over 1.18 million tourists in December and January with figures for both domestic and international arrivals showing impressive increases. On the back of this, analysts are forecasting an excellent 2019 for the tourism industry.
Giant leap in international tourism
The biggest increase in visitor figures comes in those from abroad. During the Christmas and New Year season, almost 100,000 foreigners will arrive in Ceará, an increase of 45% on the same period last year.
“International growth is so high this year because last year the Air France/KLM flight hub didn’t exist,” explained the head of Ceará tourism, Arialdo Pinho. “We expect even stronger growth in 2019 as the hub consolidates and Fortaleza Airport attracts new flights.”
Ceará has already secured direct flights between Fortaleza and Madrid for 2019. Operated by Air Europa, the twice-weekly flights will start their services in the early summer with tickets on sale from the end of 2018. Air Europa is reportedly looking at setting up a base in Fortaleza next year. Pinho also said that Ceará tourism was working on establishing a direct flight to Milan for next year.
Strong domestic tourism
The bulk of visitors to Ceará come from Brazil itself. Tourists from South and Southeast Brazil flock to the state seeking guaranteed winter sunshine and warm temperatures. Domestic tourism will rise by 8% in December and January to reach over 1 million visitors. 45% of them come from Sao Paulo.
“We have very strong domestic tourism in Ceará,” said Pinho. “The number of flights has grown enormously this year and so tickets are cheaper allowing more tourists to visit the state.”
Hotel occupancy also looks set for a record season. Hotels in Fortaleza registered 98% occupancy for December with around 85% for January. Both figures are higher than the same months last year.
Ceará tourism reaches 24% of state GDP
The big uptick in visitors and number of flights translates directly to the state economy. While in 2015, tourism in Ceará accounted for 10.5% of state GDP, this figure had increased to 12% in 2017. Statistics are not yet available for 2018, but with the advent of the Air France/KLM hub and subsequent rise in visitors, it will undoubtedly exceed 2017’s figure.
“We are aiming for tourism to represent 24% of state GDP over the next ten years,” said Pinho. He added that Ceará is consolidating its appeal as a beach destination and exploring other avenues to attract visitors. One of these is business tourism since Ceará has strong information technology and energy sectors of big interest to foreign entrepreneurs.
(Source: Diario do Nordeste)