Last year, during the FIFA World Cup, foreign travellers who came to Brazil visited over 400 cities, as well as the 12 World Cup host cities. Embratur (the Brazilian Tourist Board) is using major sporting events to promote the country as a tourist destination, and the World Cup in Brazil had the greatest global impact in this strategy. But there are two more important events for this strategy: the first edition of the World Indigenous Games in September this year and the Olympics Games in 2016.
Less well known than the Olympics, the competition of indigenous peoples will give us the opportunity to show the world another characteristic of the Brazilian people, namely our great cultural diversity, while keen travellers will enjoy seeing little known destinations which are ideal locations for ecotourism and adventure. The World Indigenous Games are expected to involve 2,300 indigenous participants, and to date 25 countries have confirmed their attendance. The games will take place from 15 to 27 September in Palmas, Tocantins, a state located around 800 km to the north of Brasília, the Brazilian capital.
Some 10,000 people are expected to visit Palmas during the games, including Brazilians and international visitors. The first World Indigenous Games were created following a recommendation from indigenous leaders from various countries, made during the Rio+20 Conference, which took place in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. One of the factors that led to Brazil being chosen to host the first edition of the games was the fact that representatives from 16 countries had participated in the 12th Indigenous Games, held in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso State. The games will be preceded by the International Artistic Festival of Indigenous Cultures, between the 15 and 17 September, which is expected to attract some 50,000 people every night.
The Indigenous Games will feature such events as archery, spear throwing, tug of war, canoeing, log running, swimming, football, fighting and xikunahati (head football). With the motto, 'In 2015, we are all indigenous', the event will feature participants from Australia, Japan, Norway, Russia, China and the Philippines, as well as indigenous peoples from the Americas. The success of the event, which is being supported by Embratur, will serve as an important means of promoting the country, with positive results for Brazil's image, and will help promote tourist destinations from Tocantins State and other Brazilian regions, particularly in the areas of ecotousim and adventure tourism.