Since April 2008, the Brazilian Tourist Office in Frankfurt has had a new leading manager – Margaret Grantham. As part of the strategy of promotion of Brazil as a tourist destination abroad, EMBRATUR (Brazilian Tourist Board) decided to expand its field of activity and established that its 2008-2009 commercial agenda will start having 13 prior countries – an addition of one country to the present figure.
While attending “Destination Brazil Showcase 2008,” an event supported by the Ministry of Tourism in Rio de Janeiro, I had the chance to ask her some questions:
What are your aims for Brazil in Germany?
Being Germany is one of the biggest outbound markets in the world, our aim is basically to show, to our faithful visitors and to the potential tourists, all the diversity that can be found in Brazil. For that, we work with special focus on the products and destinations that, according to our research, has more appeal to these consumers; for instance, everything related to Ecotourism and Adventure Travel in Brazil. Culture is another product that raises strong interest, especially aspects related to the Brazilian lifestyle, which is so admired by the Germans, and the visit to places with architectural heritage and historical sites, as well as sporting activities, such as golf. And, of course, given the enormous potential for business travelers, we have been strongly promoting Brazil as an excellent MICE destination in Germany.
What do you want to make different than the previously BTO in Germany, who was not only responsible for the German market, but also for half of Europe?
As the Brazilian Tourist Offices are now effectively present in a greater number of countries (there are ten altogether: South America, USA East Coast, USA West Coast, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the joint Mercorsur office in Japan), we could already improve our knowledge of the tourist trade, the consumer market and media of these specific countries. The German BTO is now only responsible for Germany itself and Austria. The other countries previously attended by the German BTO are now under responsibilty of the recently-created Brazilian Tourist Offices for New Markets. This new unit works to develop the Brazilian presence in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Russia and Arab countries, and this fact allows us to develop a closer relationship with all these audiences and to carry out customized actions for them, attending to their specific needs.
Why should German tourists choose to travel to Brazil?
With more than 7,000 km of coasts, Brazil offers as many varied options of beaches as the whole of Asia or Central America may offer, for example. In addition to this, especially for the German tourists, the beaches are not enough. With a territory, which is as big as a continent, there are many ecotourism and adventure tourism options spread all over Brazil, which would take a whole life to get to know. Besides, as a land of a unique cultural mixture, Brazil has its hospitable and joyful people, which is our main differential to fight for the foreign visitors. After all, these tourists are the ones who reveal their wish to return back soon, in a proportion of 9 out of 10, when they leave Brazil, according to the studies made by EMBRATUR.
Would you say that Brazil is an expensive destination? For example, flights to Brazil are not low priced.
The costs of travel packages to Brazil, when compared to the ones with the same standards of competing destinations, are equally as or maybe a little more expensive. In addition to this, the costs with transportation to reach a destination which is more remote and, due to the same fact, more differentiated, little explored, more preserved and with exclusive options, have influence on the final price. However, the comparisons among such packages do not make a more accurate analysis of the Brazilian product either, which is more complete and diversified than the ones of its main competitors.
Why are consumer and promotion events conducted at the airports in Munich and Frankfurt and not in Cologne, Düsseldorf or the northern parts of Germany?
There are many important regional markets inside Germany we recognize. But as Munich and Frankfurt are the departure cities for the direct flights to Brazil, we had to spend our funds wisely according to the accessibility criteria, and that is why we have chosen the airports. Frankfurt and Munich are, respectively, the third and the seventh busiest airports in Europe and the biggest in the country. Frankfurt has an annual circulation of some 52 million passengers and Munich another 30 million. That means an impressive circulation of people and is, by itself, another reason to place our events there because of the visibility. Another reason was the similar events we held in these cities during the World Cup 2006, which had great results for us. We hope that in the near future we can make similar actions in other German cities.
How important is the German Market to Embratur?
Overall, Germany is the sixth biggest outbound market for Brazil and the third main European market. In 2007, we have received 260,000 German visitors in Brazil. This represented 5.13% of all our visitors last year. In 2008, we participated in at least five trade fairs in Germany and tourist and business fairs. We have already carried out an advertising campaign between January and March, and our promotional inversions on Germany for these years are estimated to be at least 75% higher than last year, exceeding 4 million Euros. Also, since late 2007, we have the local support of Ogilvy PR for our public relations activities.
It is important to have direct flights to a destination. The situation regarding Brazilian Airlines is not so well at the moment. Is this going to change?
This is true. Accessibility is one of the key issues for our planning. We have, at this moment, 21 direct daily flights connecting Frankfurt and Munich to São Paulo. These flights are operated by Lufthansa and TAM Airlines and provide 5.726 seats a week between the two countries. In addition to those, we have three weekly flights connecting Frankfurt to Salvador and Recife, on the northeast of Brazil, operated by Condor. This operation has been running since 2004, and its occupancy is between 85% and 90%. Another advantage which is available to the German tourists in relation to this flight, is the fact that they can gather points in their Lufthansa mileage program, Miles & More. Of course, we wished we had more connections, but we must remember that aviation is going through a crisis worldwide due to fuel prices and high demand for airplanes. On the other hand, as a public tourist promotion entity, we don’t have direct influence on private companies’ policies, such as airlines. The government takes part on the bilateral negotiations of frequencies between the two countries, but we still have space for growth with the present deal. So what we try to do is to stimulate the demand in Germany for travel to Brazil through the tourist promotion, which we hope will attract new flights, frequencies or the expansion of available seats on the present flights.