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Global cuisine draws tourists to Brazil


Today, São Paulo is the largest foreign gastronomy hub in the country, with options from every continent
published: Aug 17, 2018 02:41 PM last modified: Aug 17, 2018 02:41 PM

Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil

A total 6.5 million foreigners visited Brazil last year seeking its many different experiences, one of the biggest draws of being a continent-sized country with a rich diversity of cultures. One of the most treasured of these experiences is gastronomy, which Brazil offers in spades due to the plurality of typical options in Brazil's different regions, and, more recently, to the many international influences the country's cuisine has incorporated.

A survey released by the Ministry of Tourism reveals that 95.7% of the foreign tourists who visited Brazil in 2017 positively rated the country's gastronomy. It was the third best-rated aspect among the 16 surveyed by the Ministry, surpassed only by hospitality in tourist services (98.1%) and infrastructure accommodation (96.4%).

“There is no tourism without gastronomy, without good restaurants, without good memories. Everyone who travels is looking for this, so having options for all tastes is a competitive advantage," said Pedro Hoffmann, board member of the Brazilian Association of Bars and Restaurants (Abrasel).

In addition to the variety of local cuisine, another phenomenon has been gaining traction, especially over the last few years: foreign cuisine. While in past decades influence was more restricted to the cuisine of countries with the strongest immigrant presence in Brazil (such as Italy, Japan and Portugal), today this market is significantly more diversified.

A taste of all tastes

The city of São Paulo is the greatest exponent of this process. Visitors to the metropolis can now find restaurants specialising in Cuban, Chilean, Angolan, Lebanese, Austrian, Iranian, Thai and Polish cuisine, to name but a few of the less traditional options. Brasilia has also emerged as another important international cuisine hub, partly the result of the gastronomic variety of the many nations with diplomatic representations in the country's capital.

Another survey by the Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur) investigated how Brazil is perceived in the international market as a tourist destination, and the results once again showed the country's cuisine is well seen. When asked if they considered Brazilian cuisine rich and varied, 60% of respondents said they fully agree and another 35% said they partially agreed.

In the view of Embratur's Tourism Segment coordinator, Alexandre Nakagawa, this variety of gastronomic offers is fundamental to the success of Brazilian tourism. "This [culinary plurality] is always attractive because it shows we are a diverse country. Today, tourists, both domestic and international, seek experiences, mainly sensory one, and taste is one of the most prominent one of those", emphasizes Nakagawa.