After the success of staycations in Ceará over the last two years, the state now has its sights firmly set on foreign visitors. As borders open up and countries relax travel regulations, the state authorities and tourist board are preparing for the return of international tourism in Ceará.
The main focal points are international flights, gradually resuming after their almost total absence for most of 2020 and all of 2021. Hotels are also in the spotlight, along with major sporting events, particularly in the second half of the year.
Tourism revenue skyrockets in a year
Like most of the world’s popular holiday destinations, Ceará has relied almost exclusively on staycations for the last two years. The state started with an advantage since it already ranks as a perennial favourite among Brazilian holidaymakers who have flocked to Ceará over the last two years.
Proof of Ceará tourism’s gradual recovery lies in the latest statistics for revenue in the sector. According to the Brazilian Statistical Agency (IBGE), income from tourism in Ceará rose by 55.2% in the year to February.
Furthermore, the volume of services contracted by holidaymakers also experienced an impressive uptick. In the 12 months to February this year, the sector increased by 43%.
Quest for international tourism in Ceará
However, despite the success of staycations, the state authorities are now entirely focused on the return of foreign visitors to the state. Prior to the pandemic, Ceará welcomed one of the highest numbers of international tourists in Brazil and 2019 ranked as a record year for visitor figures.
Current data shows that foreigners are gradually returning. For example, Fortaleza Airport received almost 13,000 international visitors in March this year, a massive uptick on figures for 2021 when no more than a trickle arrived in Ceará.
But, although an improvement, the figure remains quite a distance from pre-pandemic levels. For example, in March 2019, 42,183 foreign tourists passed through Fortaleza Airport.
The quest for international visitors has clear financial motives. Revenue from them forms a fundamental pillar in tourism in Ceará since foreigners have an average daily spend of R$1,500 compared to R$500 for domestic visitors.
More international flights
The key lies in the reopening of Ceará’s skies to flights from abroad. Paris and Lisbon were the first international destinations to return to the arrivals board at Fortaleza Airport. As a result, there are currently four flights a week connecting Paris and Ceará, and six to Lisbon.
In the pipeline is the resuming of the Madrid-Fortaleza direct flight. Air Europa reportedly has every intention of starting this service again in October. Gol and Latam are expected to take up their flights to Orlando and Miami, also in the autumn.
Ceará’s second airport at Jericoacoara also has its eye on direct flights to Europe. As a result, services connecting the famous beach resort with Lisbon will commence towards the end of the year.
Sporting events to attract international visitors
The Ceará tourist board has big sporting plans for this year too. Two kite surfing events are already on the calendar, both part of the world championship circuit. They will take place in October and November with a big, expected turnout of visitors. Of the 500,000 international tourists in 2019, 150,000 came for the kite surfing competitions.
(Sources: Panrotas, IBGE, Fortaleza Airport)