18/08/2014 10:53 BST | Updated 18/10/2014 06:59 BST

Sport Provides Yet Another Platform for Tourism Development

From just three international sporting events held in Brazil - in 2007 (the Pan-American Games), 2013 (the Confederations Cup) and 2014 (FIFA World Cup) - the number of Brazilian and foreign tourists travelling because of the games surpassed 6.5 million people, generating a movement of almost R$8 billion within the tourism sector alone. This year, according to a study carried out by FIPE/USP on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, events related to the world footballing tournament should add R$30 billion to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In total, the Brazilian tourism sector should generate 8.9 million jobs, both directly and indirectly, according to a forecast by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Another excellent opportunity to stimulate the tourism industry through sport will be the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro and should attract at least 380,000 tourists during the event, with an economic impact of R$22 billion between 2009 and 2016. In 2015, the World Indigenous Games will be held in Palmas (TO) and we will also host the World University Games (the Universiade) in Brasília, in 2019, with an estimated participation of 12,000 athletes from 166 countries. We also have world sporting events that are traditionally held in Brazil, such as stages of Formula 1, Formula Truck and Stock Car races and the World Volleyball League. All of them, without exception, enjoy wide media coverage and a huge national and international audience.

Alongside this, sporting events also generate business. In 2013, according to data from Apex (Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investments), shares in Formula Indy generated business worth US$709 million. This year, during the World Cup, business talks, in which 2,386 executives from 104 countries participated, generated more than US$5.95 billion, as well as another US$3 billion obtained during the Confederations Cup last year. The experience gained, as well as the campaigns and projects developed during the Cup will now serve as a basis from which to promote Brazil as a tourist destination, with the 2016 Olympics as a focus.


Confederations Cup

Tourists- 230,000

Economic impact- R$740 million

2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Tourists- 3.7 million

Economic impact- R$6.7 billion*

2007 Pan-American Games

Tourists- 41,000

Economic impact- R$118 million

2016 Olympic Games

Tourists- 380,000

Economic impact- R$22 billion**

Formula 1 (2013)

Tourists- 130,000

Economic impact- R$230 million

Formula Indy***

Tourists- Not available

Economic impact- R$80 million

2012 Ironman

Tourists- Not available

Economic impact- R$15 million

2019 Universiade

Tourists- Not available

Economic impact- R$60.8 million

* In the tourism sector alone.

** Between 2009 and 2016. Another R$27 billion between 2017 and 2027.

*** According to the São Paulo Mayor's Office, there will also be a financial return generated by the visibility of the race, which will be broadcast in more than 200 countries. The amount could reach more than R$430 million.

These numbers make it clear that sport, in its different forms, has consolidated its position as an important platform for stimulating tourism in recent years. It is not just Brazilians, who make the most of these events to get to know a little more about our cultural diversity, that benefit; international visitors come to the country, not only to visit our beautiful beaches and ecotourism destinations, but also to experience the music, gastronomy, architecture, and arts and crafts of Brazil. For example, those that travelled to Florianópolis in 2012, to take part in the Brazilian stage of the Ironman competition, which generated R$15 million and attracted 2,000 athletes (27% of which were foreign), also took the chance to enjoy some sightseeing; according to the event organisers, visitors stayed an average of 4 to 7 days in the city.

Besides those events with a high media profile, such as the World Cup - with an audience greater than 3 billion people across the whole world which guarantees high worldwide exposure for Brazil as a whole, as well as the country's tourist attractions - there are many other diverse events that have been held in the country in recent years. Of particular note, and worth highlighting here, are the World Military Games, held in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, the Indigenous Peoples' Games, held in Cuiabá (MT) in 2013, and the World School Games (Gymnasiade), which saw students between 14 and 17 years of age from 35 countries get together in Brasília at the end of 2013. Although they may not enjoy the same visibility as the more well-known contests, these events do bring tourists to the country, such as the families of the athletes, the technical staff and federation and confederation officials, as well as increasing Brazil's exposure and boosting the economy.

Athletics, a sport that is gaining more and more fans in Brazil, thanks to street races, is also attracting many tourists to the country. The best-known race of this type is the traditional São Silvestre International Race, held in São Paulo at the end of December, which enjoyed the participation of more than 27,000 athletes from 41 countries during the 2013 edition. A major competition of this genre in the country is the São Paulo Marathon, which had more than 18,000 participants last year. In terms of economic impact, however, among the competitions traditionally held in Brazil, it is Formula 1 that carries the greatest individual weight, generating R$230 million last year, and bringing around 130,000 visitors, including the teams, to the grandstands in Interlagos in São Paulo.

Thanks to its modern stadiums, which will be used during the 2016 Olympic Games, Brazil could attempt to host the FIFA Club World Cup (held in the country in 2000) in either 2017 or 2018. To bring this competition to Brazil would represent a new victory for us Brazilians, as we will be hosting yet another edition of the Copa América (America Cup) in 2019. Surveys carried out by the government and independent institutes highlight the hospitality, joy and affection of Brazilians as one of the greatest differentials of the 2014 World Cup. It is no coincidence that many foreigners say they will recommend Brazil as a tourist destination to their family and friends.

Vicente Neto, 48, is the president of Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Institute).