Two elements to base the success of the recently concluded 9th Global Travel & Tourism Summit by the World Travel & Tourism Council is the high number of delegates and the magnificent performance by the Brazilian government in hosting this year’s gathering. If by the outcome of the summit is any indication, WTTC has once again reaffirmed its integral role in today’s business of travel and tourism. The mere fact that the Brazilian government, from the highest level with none other than President Lula showing up to address the delegates on May 14, 2009, is a clear sign that the South American country is serious is luring tourists to the state of Santa Catarina, and, in particular, to Florianopolis (or Floripa, in short).

So Brazil seriously takes tourism that the organizers of the 9th session of WTTC’s Global Travel and Tourism Summit that “kings” of Brazil were present to help accentuate the effort to show the world its dedication to travel and tourism. Among those “kings” are the obvious government officials. Apart from Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva, Tourism Minister Luis Barretto Filho and Santa Catarina Governor Luiz Henrique da Silveria also showed up literally arm-to-arm to declare that Santa Catarina stands ready for the opportunities travel and tourism can bring, both from visitor and investment perspectives_.

To lighten the mood of the very serious business of travel and tourism, especially with the gloom brought about by the current global economic situation and the swine flu threat, at hand at the event were three other people who are looked up to in Brazil in the highest regard: former tennis grand slam winner Guga Kuerten, music superstar and former Brazil culture minister Gilbert Gil and the one and only “king” of Brazilian pop music, Roberto Carlos.

The inclusion of the two music stars in the event: Gil serenaded delegates on May 15 during the gala dinner with songs resonating a very Bob Marley vibe (he sang a mash-up English and Portuguese version of the Reggae legend’s No Woman, No Cry and did it so quite convincingly, if I may add), Kuerten, being the poster boy of Brazilian of sports, was present to show his support for the government’s effort, and Carlos, who coincidentally was asked by a local television station to sing at its 20th anniversary on May 16, hence giving the Brazilian organizers of the WTTC summit the opportunity to seize the happenstance by dedicating section of the concert solely for WTTC summit delegates. A tent and a viewing section were built adjacent to the venue, hence allowing delegates to socialize among themselves. The Carlos concert was quite a spectacle in that some 100,000 Brazilians showed up to witness the concert. The concert ended with a fireworks show.

The success of the summit is a clear affirmation that when Brazil decides to roll out its red carpet, the best can be expected. The gala dinner on May 15, when a man-made Amazon jungle was used as the setting, left many in awe. It wasn’t all about music, dining and socializing, however, the Brazilian government also seized the opportunity to raise funds for an Amazon conservation project. As many as 35 pulchritudinous women were at hand for American Express cardholders who wanted to donate to the cause, while non-American Express cardholders were provided a donation card.

The event provided Brazil a great stage to showcase the diversity of its gastronomy industry. The gala dinner on May 15 highlighted the favorite dishes from the various regions of Brazil—North, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast and South. All the regions showed their distinct use of various ingredients and spices through various dishes. Also showcased among delectable dishes was the very Brazilian drink cocktail called caprinha, which uses cachaca (Brazil’s most famous alcohol beverage), smashed lime, sugar and ice as ingredients.

In addition to the traditional sun, surf and sand tourism lures, Santa Catarina has so much to offer that it is quite a possible why its travel and tourism industry is not thriving. The infrastructure and tourism attractions are aplenty for it to be. In Florianopolis alone, there is much to do, from day activities to nightlife, that it would take a tourist more than a few visits to really enjoy the essence of what Floripa has to offer.

I’ve had the great opportunity to take a five-hour trip to an oyster farm. It was during that tour that I was provided Floripa’s historical background. According to my very informed guide, Santa Catarina is the largest exporter of oysters in the Brazil. So, naturally its farms must produce the best oysters, and, indeed, they were some of the best tasting oysters I have ever had.

It is also worth noting Castao do Santinho Resort, the main venue for the summit and host to most of the delegates, was more than able to handle the very arduous task of holding one of the most prominent travel and tourism events. The facility boasts world-class rooms and meetings venues, while its environs and amenities are what can be expected of any resort adhering to international standards.

At night, Floripa’s skyline becomes very distinct in that its bridge is lit up in blue, providing a tourist something to gawk at for hours. The bridge has uncanny resemblance to California’s Golden Gate Bridge during the day, but it takes on a new different look at night. Flying in to Floripa during nighttime is highly recommended, as it is the perfect segue to what will undoubtedly be a trip to be bragging about for years and years to come.

Show business is a big industry in Brazil and sure enough, WTTC’s 9th Global Travel and Tourism Summit was presented as a multi-million dollar production utilizing the best that can only be expected from Brazil’s world-class showmanship. More importantly, the event has shown the world Brazil’s Santa Catarina has been primed and is ready to receive its share of tourists from various parts of the world. Brazilian hospitality is topnotch, and there is no doubt that the event showed this in more ways than one. So, plan a trip for yourself to discover this unsung tourism jewel, bring or tell your colleagues to do the same thing. Expect an experience that you will want to return to in memory and in person over and over again. I know I can’t wait for my next visit.