Stretching back 50 years, the history of Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Institute) is intertwined with the history of the development of tourism in Brazil. Created in 1966, the institution found a country with practically no tourist structure and little culture orientated towards tourism. In that year, Brazil received 133,000 foreign tourists. It was even said they could be greeted by name!
With great effort and coordination and headed by a vast network of Brazilian entrepreneurs, Embratur consolidated itself as the driving force behind the transformation of national tourism in Brazil. At the start of its involvement, Embratur focused on promotion and control of the activity. The tourist board soon embarked on programmes for the granting of fiscal and financing incentives that enabled the construction of major Brazilian tourist facilities, such as the convention centres throughout the country.
As activity in this field began to develop across the world, Embratur kept pace with it and went on to chart the course for tourism in the country. For example, by devising and implementing the National Plan of Municipal Responsibility for Tourism, which became the Plan of Regional Responsibility for Tourism, which is still working under the aegis of the government. In 2003, with the creation of the Ministry of Tourism, Embratur assumed responsibility for promoting Brazilian tourism abroad. At that time, for example, Brazil was receiving 4.1 million tourists a year.
In 2015, the number of foreign tourists visiting Brazil had risen to 6.3 million. During this time, we were able to maintain average growth in line with what was happening in the world, with a 60% increase between 2003 and 2015 in the number of foreign tourists, and a 132% increase in foreign currency income. This year we expect to close with a figure of 6.6 million foreign visitors, which should generate R$ 7 billion in foreign currency. Since it began to dedicate itself exclusively to international promotion, the number of South American tourists travelling to Brazil has risen by 400%.
The concerted efforts of Embratur and the Brazilian private sector during the last few years have definitively placed Brazil on the map of international tourism. Thanks to this great effort, we are present in the world's main markets and securing our place in the international market cake. At the present time, the sector represents 9% of Brazilian GDP and generates 8 million jobs directly and indirectly linked to the activity in the national economy, according to the WTTC.
During these 50 years, Embratur has enabled Brazilian businesses in various segments to participate in international tourist fairs, organised workshops and business rounds with the national and international tourist trade, and enabled hundreds of foreign journalists to sample Brazil's tourist attractions.
Today, Embratur has earned itself international credibility and is one of Brazil's main ambassadors abroad. However, we can and must do much more.
We are presently seeking to reposition the institution with the aim of substantially raising the number of foreigners who visit us and the inflow of foreign currency. We are working pragmatically to obtain resources and investment in international tourist promotion, and we are proposing a revamp of Embratur's institutional model in order to modernise it and make its operation more flexible.
A new market approach will be under way from 2017, in which we are seeking to maintain our competitive position in the countries where we are active and to develop in a consistent and safe manner. We will concentrate our efforts on strategies aimed at increasing the length of stay and the average spend of the foreigner visitor. We also want to communicate increasingly via digital platforms, in line with what is happening in the world and with the behaviour of potential consumers.
Brazil has enormous potential for the development of tourism in all its dimensions. The mission to consolidate the sector has been achieved during these 50 years, at a time when Brazil has also risen to the pinnacle of international exposure following the cycle of extremely successful great events. Embratur's future challenge will be to help Brazil in the internationalisation of the Brazilian economy through tourism - and to transform the country with the greatest tourist potential into a worldwide tourist power.