Brazil is booming as a tourism destination, and now it has set its sights on its cruise industry.
The sector has set new records in the region over the past year, with six cruise lines operating 20 vessels and carrying almost 800,000 guests.
Brazil also has the potential to become a year-round cruise destination if hurdles surrounding South American cruise tourism policy were overcome, according to MSC Cruises CEO, Pierfrancesco Vago.
Speaking during a panel discussion at South America’s inaugural Seatrade Cruise Tourism Convention, which is being held in Sao Paolo, Brazil, he said: “It is critical that dialogue be strengthened between the cruise sector, national regulators and decision makers to ensure the future of the continent as one of the fastest growing source markets for the industry.”
In addition an Economic Impact Study, commissioned by Abremar, the Brazilian Association of Maritime Cruises has released a study showing that the cruise sector was a significant contributor to the Brazilian economy, accounting for a total economic output of US$814 million during the 2010/2011 cruise season.
Pierfrancesco Vago added: “The cruise sector boom could be in danger for a number of factors: The industry’s development is threatened by unclear rules and regulations, there is a lack of competitive incentive in the operation of certain passenger terminals, there are weak and poor port infrastructures and operation costs are astronomical, all of which makes cruising in South America the world’s most expensive itineraries.
“I believe I speak for the entire cruise sector when I say it is about time we started assessing and discussing with all those wishing to engage in technical debate and consultations around these issues,” said Mr Vago who was joined on the panel by senior representatives of leading cruise line companies operating in the region.
“Brazil would certainly become a leading all-year-round destination if dialogue around these issues was successful,” he added.