One of the sectors most affected by the business interruption due to the new coronavirus pandemic is tourism. The sector that represented 7.7% of the Brazilian economy before the pandemic, with 551.5 billion reais (about $110 billion) in direct and indirect revenues in 2019, lost US$94.1 billion in the past two years and more than 340,000 jobs. One gamble for recovery is Ecotourism. Attractions in the middle of nature with the sum of other conditions, point to a path of reinvention to get out of the crisis.
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Brazil is the third country in the world that considers sustainable travel the most important, only behind Kenya and Vietnam and linked to Colombia. Brazilians are more concerned with the sustainable effects that a trip can generate.
According to the Sustainable Travel 2022 report, a survey commissioned by Booking, 90% of Brazilian respondents say they plan to travel more sustainably in the next 12 months. The data shows an increase of 12 percentage points compared to the company’s 2021 figures.
It is not today that the city of Goiás has seen ecotourism as a major attraction for visitors. The Municipal Secretary of Tourism of Goiás, Rodrigo Borges, who has been working with ecotourism for more than 30 years, explains that the city’s tourism model does not focus only on the economic aspect.
“The city of Goiás is working on a sustainable and responsible tourism project. The tourism model that we are implementing here is not solely and exclusively focused on the economic issue. This project goes further and includes the social issue and appreciation for the culture of the region,” explains Rodrigo.
According to the president of Goiás Turismo, Brazil is considered the most important nature destination in the world and the ninth in terms of culture. Goiás, in turn, has a good position at the national level.
“Goiás is definitely one of the five nature destinations in Brazil. It means that Goiás is at the global level of nature and that means we have to work on it. It is necessary to have logistics and continuously work on qualification. Nature tourism in Goiás is something very important,” he explained.
And speaking of cultural tourism, most of the tourist entrepreneurs in the city of Goiás are local residents, which, according to the secretary, helps to preserve the cultural roots of the municipality.
“The city of Goiás has a rich cultural production that makes a difference to us. We have a very strong calendar of cultural events. To keep this calendar alive, it is extremely important to appreciate and preserve the local culture,” explains Rodrigo.
The movement of awareness and companies practicing sustainable tourism has grown in recent years. “Serious entrepreneurs are the strongest advocates of conservation. We should not confuse the predatory exploitation of nature with tourism.”
The chairman pointed out what the main actions are to encourage ecotourism in Goiás. “Today we have lines of credit that specialize in environmental issues, specialized channels, influencers who only work with environmental sustainability issues. If the company does not currently have pillars focused on sustainability, tourists will not return,” he emphasized.
The city of Goiás invests in sustainable tourism activities and in good education, which promotes environmental awareness, preserves and protects the environment, so that tourism becomes the main source of wealth for the municipality.
“Tourism and ecotourism are activities that distribute wealth. Tourism has the role of allowing the resources of this activity to reach different sectors of the economy.”
In Pirenópolis, tourism already accounts for about 70% of the city’s economy. But according to Vanessa, a lot of progress is still needed in the field of ecotourism.
“Unfortunately, there is still a stream of people traveling and not worrying about the aftermath, with what they leave behind in that space. It is a work of raising awareness among tourists in relation to the use of natural spaces,” he explains.
At the same time, the ecotourism movement has increased, boosting the sector. “We also have a lot of eco-tourists and that makes us very proud. Ecotourists are very careful and if they find something along the way, they make it a point to collect it and one encourages the other to continue good practices, like a chain of good,” he concluded.
In 2019, Goiás hosted about 8 million people, a number higher than the state’s population. The main municipality, and which is considered the driving force of tourism in Goiás, is Caldas Novas, a city that received almost half of the tourists who came to the state in the year before the pandemic.
Other cities that attract a large number of visitors are Pirenópolis, which attracts attention for its beautiful landscapes, adventure tourism and ecotourism, and the city of Goiás, where cultural tourism is in high demand. In addition to other popular destinations such as Chapada dos Veadeiros and Araguaia.
Pirenópolis receives about a million visitors a year, and although the sector is still recovering, tourism remains the main source of income for the municipality.
“Today I can say that tourism is the main economy of Pirenópolis. The pandemic brought this confirmation with all the shutdowns and reflections on the economy. The city cannot use all the shops and services we have here,” said Pirenópolis Secretary of Tourism, Vanessa Leal.
Tourism is an important branch of the economy, despite the difficulty of having accurate data, due to the transfer of these data by the municipalities, in 2019 this sector corresponds to 9.2% of the GDP of Goiás.
“Goiás is a very rich place, mainly with agribusiness, but if I measured the wealth generated by state and municipal taxes, this value would definitely go up to 15%,” noted the president of Goiás Turismo, Fabrício Amaral. .
Another important factor that distinguishes tourism is its relevance to job creation.
According to Fabrício Amaral, tourism is almost unbeatable in job creation. “We have over 14,000 registered bars and restaurants with an average of three to five employees. In this industry alone, we are talking about 60,000 employees, not counting hotels, farm hotels and tour guides. The numbers are very telling, it is a sector that needs care and investment to pay off,” he said.
This report is part of the Repens Consumo series developed by Sagres System with the support of the Pro Cerrado Foundation. Over the course of 12 episodes, we will delve deeper into topics related to sustainability, production and consumption, which are related to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal – SDG 12, namely “Ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns”.
In this report we show how the correct disposal of electronic waste takes place. Another waste of concern to environmentalists is hospital waste. You will see this topic in Sinval Lopes’ report next week.