It is official; Brazil is one of the best countries in the world to host meetings. For the fourth year running, Brazil has retained its place in the top ten of the International Congress and Convention Association’s country rankings. The 2010 report ranks Brazil in ninth position globally and number two in the Latin – & North America region.
Brazilian cities also performed well, with São Paulo (SP) and Rio de Janeiro (RJ) retaining their second and third places in the regional rankings. Both cities were within the top 35 of the global list.
So what is it that sets Brazil apart as a potential meeting destination? The reasons are numerous: state-of-the-art technology; first class hotel infrastructure, superb food, entertainment and shopping. This is why, planners, organisers, investors, entrepreneurs, executives and clients are all finding great opportunities in Brazil. Meetings, corporate events, seminars, congresses, symposia, trade fairs and incentive tourism are all on the up – and as they often say in Brazil, ‘your business is our business.’
Added to this is decades of experience at servicing the MICE segment. Brazil has been in the international and event tourism business for quite some time. It is easy to understand why, with a potential market of more than 170 million people in predominantly urban and modern industrial areas, it represents a huge opportunity. Let’s take a look at some of the stand-out cities.
With São Paulo, São Paulo State, located in the southeast of Brazil, hosting around 75 percent of all the fairs and congresses that take place in the country, perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s known as the ‘Business Capital’. It is also the largest city in the country.
But it’s not just the city that has a lot to offer; the whole of the state of São Paulo is brimming with great restaurants, a lively night life and flourishing cultural pursuits. In fact, these attractions, together with a visit to the cost, often tempt business visitors to prolong their stay.
In São Paulo, food is important. Very important! It’s probably on a par with business. That’s why connoisseurs of dining out are never disappointed. From the ‘Botequim’ bars, to the most sophisticated restaurants in the Jardins district; from savoury snacks served over-the-counter, to the pasta served in the famous taverns; or the international à la carte menus, the cuisine of São Paulo reflects the city itself, varied, unprejudiced, and totally cosmopolitan.
A great place to base oneself is the Avenida Paulista. Home to around 30 percent of São Paulo’s financial district, the Avenue is a favorite place with the city’s residents. That’s why it is virtually impossible to visit São Paulo without walking along it.
Rio de Janeiro
Events organisers and their colleagues looking for a modern destination with a sophisticated infrastructure will find everything they need in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro State, located in the southeast of Brazil. Aside from the famous beaches it is also the headquarters of major Brazilian companies. It also boasts the largest conglomerate of media and communications companies in South America. Furthermore as one of the largest centres of research and development in Brazil, it is also home to many universities and institutes.
When it comes to events, Brasília, Federal District, is hard to beat. Located in the Midwest of Brazil and considered a world historical heritage by Unesco, it is, without doubt, a destination of excellence in the business and events market. Even the way the city is laid out, with many of the Conventions Centers being a mere ten-minute walk away from the city’s hotels, is highly convenient.
When it comes to hosting Congress and Fairs in this city it’s hard to know where to start. One highlight is Ulysses Guimarães Conventions Centre. This charming space is capable of hosting events of any size and has an auditorium that seats up to 7,000 people. As for bed space, a business visitor has over 27,000 to choose from. National and international hotel chains are all represented in the city.
Foz do Iguaçu
Another city ranked was Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná State, located on the border between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Together with Ciudad del Este and Puerto Iguazu, it is part of one of the largest cultural tourism hubs in South America. It is a destination full of delights, with a variety of natural and man-made attractions, an excellent choice of hotels, and a perfect infrastructure for events and conferences. If that wasn’t enough, the eighth wonder of the world is located in the municipal district of Foz do Iguaçu: the majestic Iguaçu Falls. There are 272 falls in total stretching up to 83m in height. The lively night life, with casinos, pubs and beer houses, make the region a fascinating place, with plenty of attractions for the business traveller.
Next is Salvador, Bahia State, located in the northeast of Brazil, also highlighted in the rankings and now a hub for international tourists. Famous for its history, the legacy left by people from other continents, its cultural miscegenation, its religious syncretism and the hospitality of its people, the capital of Bahia attracts visitors from all corners of the globe.
The streets of the Historic Centre of Salvador, considered a historical world heritage by Unesco, take one back to the beginnings of Brazil’s history. The excellent tourist guides, who have in-depth knowledge of the local culture, explain how colonisation developed in what was the first city of Brazil. Until 1763, Salvador was the capital of the Portuguese Crown in the Americas, and was also the main port in the southern hemisphere up until the 18th century. Today, the city brims with people who are happy, creative and musical, heirs of the rich folklore and cultural manifestations that have taken place here. So much so, that the city is considered the cultural capital of Brazil. An inspirational place for the business traveller.
Florianópolis and other cities
Last but not least is Florianópolis, Santa Catarina State, also ranked, located in the south of Brazil. As well as a hub for information technology, it is a destination of natural beauty, with a wonderfully diverse coastline. For business folk who enjoy surfing, windsurfing, sailing or fishing, this is place to go for a few days of rest and relaxation.
Other cities recognised in the ICCA report were Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais State, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul State, Recife, Pernambuco State, Curitiba, Paraná State and Natal, Rio Grande do Norte State, all of which have their own individual charms.
So, when planning a meeting, event or conference, does one really need to look further than Brazil? Probably not.