05/09/2013 11:10 BST | Updated 05/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Brazil Invests in Its Historic Cities

This month President Dilma Rousseff presented the works schedule for the PAC (Development Acceleration Programme) for Historic Cities. Some 1.6 billion reais will be invested in 44 cities across 20 states, to restore 425 buildings and public spaces over the course of the next three years. As well as this, the government will make another 300 million reais available in credit lines to finance the renovation of private properties. Among this list, the 12 historic Brazilian sites recognised by UNESCO as Cultural World Heritage sites were sure to be featured. This includes the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, the first city in the world to be recognised in the Urban Landscape category, for its unique fusion of sea, mountains and human habitation.

Given that the historic cities are powerful attractions for tourists, this financial support, to an area vital for international tourism in Brazil, is, without doubt, extremely important. When preserved, these cities generate employment and income for their citizens and become an important lever for regional development. As well as strengthening Brazilian cultural identity, they become fertile ground for the development of projects within the creative economy.

A survey carried out by Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Institute) among tourists that visited Brazil for the Confederations Cup in June, showed that, between games, their main interest was to visit our historic and cultural attractions. This was also the case during World Youth Day.

The cultural tourism promotional efforts cover many other initiatives. For example, we are continually working on the promotion of our music and cinema, supporting Brazilian film festivals in several countries, such as the United Kingdom, United States of America and Spain. Last week, in Italy, we presented the Boi de Morros group who represent an artistic style - bumba-meu-boi (beat my bull) - that is unique to the Brazilian North East, particularly the Maranhão state. The group performed in the Piazza Navona in Rome to members of the public, tourism operators and journalists to excellent acclaim.

The presence of Boi de Morros in the Italian capital represents the worldwide launch of Brazilian plans for the 2014 June Festivals. The celebrations for Saint Anthony, Saint John, Saint Peter and Saint Martial, alongside Carnival, are typically Brazilian festivals that mark us out in the world and show a little of who we are. Promoting them abroad is a way of making the most of the happy coincidence that the 2014 World Cup takes place in June, and brings the June Festivals to the forefront of global awareness as something readily identified with Brazil.

As President Dilma Rousseff stated, "preserving this memory is a pre-requisite for us becoming a nation that can stand on its own two feet". We are very proud of our continued economic growth and the progress we have made in combating poverty and protecting the environment. We can look confidently towards our future, and it is on behalf of this future that we are working to conserve our historic cities and to promote our culture.