Brazil has been a hot topic throughout the pandemic, as the media has hung onto every controversy.
Yet behind the bold Bolsonaro rhetoric, lives a country and community who have pulled together to get through the hardest of times and are now on the trajectory toward a healthy future.
Out of Brazil’s 200 million citizens, approximately 70 million live hand to mouth, as such, managing COVID-19 infections has been an astronomical challenge. Lockdowns, in such a delicate society, were not a luxury the population could afford, for many communities it came down to a choice between starvation and infection. Far from irresponsible, the locals in these stoic communities took matters into their own hands, to limit the spread as best they could, by introducing community lead restrictions, whilst keeping business open and mouths fed. In these circumstances infections still raged but, without local intervention, it could have been even worse.
Today, thankfully, vaccinations are accelerating through the population, with over 92% of adults over the age of 15 having taken their first dose (65% of the total population), and 43% of adults 15 and over are fully vaccinated (30% of the total population). Brazil now has the capability of producing its own Astra Zeneca and continues to import Pfizer as the front-line defence and everyone in the country now has access to these vaccinations.
Currently, the infection and death rate of COVID-19 is heading toward the lowest since the pandemic began and, as we report, decreasing. This is despite being open to tourism. Travellers from India, South Africa and the UK are still required to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival but for visitors from all other nations, the only requirement for entry is a valid PCR test taken within 72 hours of flying to Brazil.
Australian, Nick Macciocca, Chimu’s operations manager, lives in Brazil and has witnessed the affects the pandemic had on Brazil firsthand. After the country encountered a formidable battle with the virus, he now reports on signs of positive change in tourism within the nation.
“Here in Rio de Janeiro, tourist numbers are increasing steadily, and in Copacabana and Ipanema I am hearing American accents everywhere. Vaccinated travellers from the US are arriving in significant numbers, as well as visitors from France, Germany, and Scandinavia. There are more and more each day.” Said Nick Macciocca.
Though Brazil’s borders have been open since June 2020, initially entry was granted only to visitors from countries with low cases and deaths from COVID-19. Travellers from the US and neighbouring Latin American nations were not granted entry until October 2020 and, even now, land borders remain closed to neighbouring countries to help control the virus being brought in overland, flights are easier to control by requiring and inspecting tests results, prior to entry.
Currently many federal restrictions remain in place to continue in limiting the risk of COVID-19 spreading. These include a cap on visitor numbers at any one time at key tourist sights, to allow for social distancing, compulsory mask wearing on flights, in airports, in tourism vehicles and hotels, and other important sanitary measures such as alcohol gel being provided in all locations. These restrictions are enforced very strictly by local authorities, and even extend to day-to-day activities such as entering supermarkets, banks, pharmacies etc. At a local level, many city councils are implementing their own requirements, and as of 1st of September 2021, in Rio de Janeiro, clients of gymnasiums, cinemas, theatres and sporting events need to show proof of vaccine to enter.
Whilst not yet at pre-pandemic levels, international tourism in Brazil is rebounding and welcoming travellers from the US and Europe, whilst Brazilians continue to make the most of their domestic tourism gems and travel locally during their days off.
With tourism a critical element to income, especially for many living hand to mouth, international tourists have been welcomed back with open arms, the Cariocas in Rio love nothing more than seeing foreign visitors enjoying their beautiful city, and are aware, more than ever, of just how beneficial tourism is to their livelihoods and way of life.
To help the country rebound, the federal government have allocated a significant budget to improving the tourism sector in Brazil, as global travel restrictions ease and are already running major advertising campaigns in Europe.
With the real devalued almost by half, the country is also incredibly cheap for foreigners to visit right now. With smaller crowds and economic touring options it’s a traveller’s playground.
Whilst there is a road to travel before Australians are given the green light to visit Brazil again, Chimu Adventures are already working on the ground and look forward to the day when we can finally welcome the Aussies back to this beautiful country. The nation is ready and waiting.