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FIFA World Cup 2014: Tourism in Brazil

The global spotlight will be on Brazil for the next four weeks as the destination hosts the greatest sporting show on earth, the FIFA World Cup.

Here Breaking Travel news takes a look at what the hundreds of thousands of international visitors to the country can expect once their planes touch down in South America.

We also look at the three host cities England fans will encounter – Manaus, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte – as they follow their team around the country.

Sunset in Porto Alegre, Brazil

Brazilian Tourism

With nearly six million international visitors in 2013, Brazil is the largest tourism destination in South America.

Although from a low base, the country has seen numbers steady increase over the past few years, with more visitors from across North and South America driving numbers upward.

According to the latest figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council the direct impact of tourism accounted for some 3.5 per cent of Brazilian GDP in 2013, or around BRL166.1 billion.

This is expected to increase to 3.9 per cent by 2014.

Around three million jobs were directly supported by the sector, again expected to rise to 3.7 million by 2024.

The destination offers both domestic and international tourists ample options, with natural areas being its most popular tourism product.

There is a large focus on ecotourism, with leisure and recreation, mainly sun and beach, and adventure travel, also on the agenda.

Given its colonial past, there is also a historic and cultural tourism scene in the country.

Among the most popular destinations are the Amazon Rainforest, the beaches and dunes in the Northeast Region, the Pantanal in the Center Region, and the beaches at Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina.

Cultural and historic tourism focuses on Minas Gerais, while and business trips are focused on São Paulo.

In 2005, Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçu, São Paulo, Florianópolis and Salvador were the most visited cities by international tourists for leisure trips.

The most popular destinations for business trips were São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre.

Most international visitors in 2013 came from Argentina, making up nearly a third of the visitors, while the United States contributed more than ten per cent.

Significant other groups came from Germany, Italy and France, as well as neighbouring South American destinations including Peru, Chile and Uruguay.

Newton Navarro bridge, Natal

Popular Destinations

Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s primary tourist attraction.

The city receives the most visitors per year of any city in South America with 2.82 million international tourists in 2013.

The city sports world-class hotels, approximately 80 kilometres of beach, and the famous Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountains.

Rio de Janeiro’s government has recently begun to modernise the city’s economy, seeking to reduce its chronic social inequalities, and improve its commercial standing as part of an initiative for the regeneration of the tourism industry.

The city is an important global LGBT destination, with one million LGBT tourists visiting the city of Rio de Janeiro each year.

The city is also home to the world-famous Carnaval; an annual celebration in the Roman Catholic tradition that allows merry-making before lent.

Here guests will see the famous floats, steel drums and dancers synonymous with the city.

Less well known in Europe, but popular with travellers is Florianópolis, the capital city and second largest city of Santa Catarina state in the Southern region of Brazil

The island is connected to the Continent by three bridges.

The Hercílio Luz Bridge was built over 70 years ago and is now closed to traffic; it is a symbol of the island and often appears on postcard images.

The Colombo Sales Bridge and Pedro Ivo Bridge are open to traffic.

Santo Amaro da Imperatriz was the first thermal water facility in Brazil.

Hotels with thermal bath facilities are located in the district of Caldas da Imperatriz and in the city of Águas Mornas.

The Fonte Caldas da Imperatriz city baths are an additional source of thermal waters, which can reach the temperature of 39 °C, where there are immersion baths and hydromassage.

Florianópolis is one of the locations for the ASP World Tour of the Association of Surfing Professionals, which classifies 50 competitors, among professionals and amateurs.

The state of Santa Caterina is the only location in South America for this surfing event.

Sunset over the Negro River

England Fans

England fans will get to see a lot of Brazil given the virtue of the team’s draw.

Manaus will welcome travelling fans for the first game, against Italy.

The city’s has a population of 1.9 million people and is the most populous in the Brazilian Amazon area.

Located on the north bank of the Negro River, 11 miles (18 km) above the meeting of the rivers where the Negro merges with the Solimões, Manaus is 900 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s the hub of tourism for the rivers, the jungle lodges and the river cruises.

Manaus sprawls outward, but the centre of town, the Centro where most of the hotels and attractions are located, rises above the river on a slight hill.

As the largest city and a major port on the river, Manaus is commercial.

Local industries include brewing, shipbuilding, soap manufacturing, the production of chemicals, computers, motorcycles and petroleum refining of oil brought in by barge and tourism.

More familiar with be São Paulo, which will host England v Uruguay.

The largest city in Brazil, with a population of about 11 million, it is the capital of the Southeastern state of São Paulo, and also a beehive of activity that offers a jovial nightlife and an intense cultural experience.

São Paulo is one of the richest cities in the southern hemisphere, while being historically attractive to immigrants as well as Brazilians from other states, it’s one of the most diverse cities in the world.

São Paulo, or Sampa as it is also often called, is also probably one of the most underrated cities tourism-wise, often overshadowed by other places in the Brazilian sun and beach circuit such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador.

It is in fact a great city to explore, with its own idiosyncrasies, the exquisite way of living of its inhabitants, not to mention the world-class restaurants and diverse regional and international cuisine available to all tastes.

If there is a major attraction to this city, it is the excellent quality of its restaurants and the variety of cultural activities on display.

For their final game of the group stages England will face Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte.

This is Brazil’s sixth-largest city, the centre of its third-largest urban area and the capital of the state of Minas Gerais.

With its orderly grid plan and tree-lined avenues, it’s a pleasant metropolis.

For travellers, it’s a good stopping point on the way to the beautiful colonial towns such as Ouro Preto and Tiradentes.

Belo Horizonte is little over a century old.