With an underwhelming amount of ticket sales for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this Aug. 5–21, Brazilian officials recently announced that any American, Canadian, Japanese, or Australian travelers will be permitted to travel the country visa-free between June 1 to Sept. 18 for a maximum of 90 days.
Brazilian Tourism Minister Eduardo Alves is hoping this decision will increase the amount of travelers from these countries by 20%. Without restrictions, citizens of these countries will be able to travel with ease, or even book last-minute flights, without the stress of making it to their closest Brazilian consulate, application papers and hefty processing fee (US$160) in hand.
Brazil is in their deepest recession in over two decades and the longest recession since 1990. It was only in 2011 that Brazil represented the sixth largest economy in the world. But, in 2015, the economy shrank 3.8%, unemployment is rising, and the real has dropped in value by 24% against the American dollar in the past year.
Officials believe that with a surge in visa-free tourism and, hopefully, Olympic attendance, this will provide the financial support the country needs to boost itself out of its current crisis.
If enough tickets still haven’t been sold as the event draws nearer, there is talk in the government of gifting large numbers of tickets to public schools throughout Brazil, thus offering low-income kids, who would likely never have had the chance to attend otherwise, free attendance to the games. In what is turning out to be a disastrous endeavor, the government might yet be able to milk some goodwill out of the debacle.