The question of Brazilian tourist visas has raised a debate between the country’s top officials. While the Tourism Minister sees visa regulations as a way to boost the economy, the Foreign Minister stands by tradition.
Like his predecessor José Serra, new Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes believes Brazil’s visa regulations should be reciprocal. Meaning, Brazil should require tourist visas from countries who do so for Brazilians. However, Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão sees economic growth as more important than diplomatic standards.
“Facilitating travel measures such as with visa waivers can generate up to a 25 percent increase in the flow of destinations involved,”said Beltrão last month. “We projected revenues of up to $450 million with this measure in two years.”
Beltrão’s measure would relieve citizens of the U.S., Japan, Canada, and Australia of travel visa requirements. Currently, Brazilians need tourist visas to travel to all four of these countries. The Tourism Minister’s announcement came only days after Donald Trump issued travel bans on majority-Muslim countries, which also strengthened U.S. visa requirements for Brazilians.
Brazil’s Tourism Minister cited the success of visa waivers during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. The tourist visa exemption allowed nationals from the above stated countries to travel freely in Brazil between July 1st and September 18th, 2016. Following the visa exemption announcement, searches for flights to Brazil within Japan and Canada skyrocketed by 114 percent compared to the previous year.
The U.S. Embassy also praised the visa exemption, emphasizing that up to 200,000 Americans would travel to Brazil for the games. That number is more than double the amount that came for 2014 World Cup. However, none of the countries mentioned eliminating travel requirements for Brazilians in their own countries.