In spite of uncertainties surrounding the global economic outlook, the number of tourists travelling throughout the world last year grew by 4.7% compared with 2013. This meant 51 million more people looking to travel to new places, re-experience fondly remembered destinations and flavours, discover different cultures or simply visit friends or go shopping, according to data from the World Tourism Organisation.
In total, the world tourism sector accounted for transactions totalling over US $1 trillion last year.
In Brazil, tourism currently represents around 3.6% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), accounting for over 10 million direct and indirect jobs. Tourism stimulates clean and sustainable development, which aims at preservation in order to generate income. As well as its strong financial leverage, it also helps broaden the horizons of the Brazilian people, expanding their historical, cultural and social frames of reference, while stimulating local development by injecting billions into the economy.
The injection of funds into sectors as far-reaching as services like hotels, food providers and tour operators has an impressive effect on local economies. At the three mega events hosted by Brazil in recent years, World Youth Day, the Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup, the direct impact on the economy was around R $8 billion, demonstrating that tourist services are one of our most important exports.
In 2014, foreign currency inflows from international tourism totalled US $7,476 billion, according to Central Bank data - US $6,914 billion from international tourist travel and US $562 million from foreign sales of airline tickets by Brazilian airlines. In the ranking of export products that generate revenues for Brazil, this total puts tourist services in fourth place, ahead of revenues from sugar cane and soybean oil production, chicken, coffee beans and passenger vehicles sales.
Brazil is currently one of the most versatile tourist destinations in the world, with a wide cultural appeal, including sun, beaches, ecotourism, adventure, business, conferences, sports and LGBT activities, as well as a variety of tourist itineraries and products to meet different requirements throughout the year. In recent years gastronomy has also played an increasingly important role. In 2014, a survey carried out during the World Cup showed that 93.2% of visitors enjoyed the local cuisine, demonstrating that our dishes are a characteristic pillar of Brazilian culture.
Data from the World Tourism Organisation showed that in 2014, visitor numbers increased for the fifth consecutive year. In terms of continental performance, the greatest increase was registered in the Americas with a rate of 7%, followed by Asia (5%), Europe (4%) and Africa (2%). Last year, the tourism sector accounted for 9% of global GDP, 30% of exports of services and 6% of international trade.