The number of British tourists visiting and exploring Brazil increased in 2008 according to the Brazilian Tourist Board (EMBRATUR)’s latest Annual Tourism Report.

More than 181,000 British tourists went to Brazil last year which represents a growth of over 2.3% compared to 2007 when almost 177,000 tourists visited the country.

Brazil received more than five million visitors from around the world last year, an increase of almost 0.5% in relation to the previous year.

The report also reveals that the majority of tourists that visited Brazil last year preferred to go in January, February and March, during summer and when some of the most famous festivals in the world take place: New Years Eve at Copacabana Beach and Carnival. Both events attract together millions of people every year to Brazil.

There was a slight growth in arrivals in June and August which suggests that Britons are becoming familiar with the less obvious highlights of Brazil’s tourism offer.The cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro retain the title of top visited destinations but, the 2008 report reveals that the number of visitors to the states of Pará in the Amazon and Paraná, home to the world-famous Iguassu Falls, has increased significantly.

The tourist board said that promotional campaigns by EMBRATUR increased investment in infrastructure and tourist facilities, new flights into Brazil (British Airways launched three weekly London-Rio flights in October 2008) as well as increased hotel capacity at all levels of the market have contributed to these rising numbers. Chris Fuzinatto, UK & Ireland director for EMBRATUR, said: “As you can imagine we are extremely pleased to have achieved this positive growth during one of the most challenging years in the travel industry’s recent history. I believe that the sheer diversity of Brazil means that it has always had a strong potential appeal to UK travellers, but by working to support and educate the travel trade and reminding consumers about this diversity via advertising, we have succeeded in tapping into that potential and converting it to bookings”

Brazil’s hosting of the Football World Cup in 2014 is also expected to continue to increase figures as well as the 2016 Olympics - if Rio de Janeiro’s bid to host the games is successful.

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