Natal Brazil

Information about the city of Natal, in Brazil.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tourists complain about Tourist Services in Natal

A report published by newspaper Tribuna do Norte shows that visitors still complain much about the quality of tourism services in Natal.

The report starts by mentioning severals cases of Brazilian tourists who say that they can't move around Natal and the neighbor beaches because of the lack of information and signalization. Several people got lost trying to reach the beaches, both in the Northern (Jenipabu and beyond) and Southern (Pirangi and Pipa) coasts; the opening of the new bridge only made matters worse. Besides, people complain (remember: Brazilian people) that there is not information available about the main places of visitation within the city; tourist guides are said to be uninformed. And the report didn't mention it, but it is well known that a place where educational levels are low, like Natal, can not provide skilled manpower to the tourism businesses.

Of course, the situation is much worse when it comes to foreign tourists. Then, to the lack of culture and lack of professionalism, one must add the lack of proficiency in other languages. If Portuguese speakers find it hard to move around the city, foreigns get lotst much easily; public signalization, when available, is in Portuguese only; as the report says, the only multi-linguals source of information are the propaganda papers distributed by private businesses.

Some phrases, quoted from the article: "Many of my fellows don't speak any English, they just string the clients along until they tire", said a tourist guide; "I don't feel any difficulty; the clients always ask the same clients", said the girl who works at the bookshop of the airport; "I don't loose any business (because of my lack of English), the customers end up getting used to it"; said the owner of a shop at the airport; "only 20% of the 350 buggy drivers are capable of speaking English", said a very optimistic Director of the buggy drivers association; "I think that the foreign visitors must learn Portuguese; when we travel abroad, nobody tries to learn Portuguese to talk to us; sorry, I don't care about them", said a staff of the airport !

And what does the Government say? The Secretary of Tourism, Fernando Bezerril, says that things are going to get better. There have been meetings, studies, conventions, etc, and now they know what to do. The same old story.
Link again: http://tribunadonorte.com.br/noticia.php?id=60735

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

More American tourists in Natal ?

Veja magazine (the biggest in Brazil and the fourth biggest in the World) published an interview with the American Ambassador in Brasil, Clifford Sobel.
Mr. Sobel has been in Brasil for one year; previously he had been Ambassador in Holland for four years. The interview was about the current state of affairs between Brazil and USA; President Lula and President Bush have met two times this year, and there seems to be a strong mutual interest in developing the market of ethanol (the most promising kind of bio-fuel; Brazil is the largest producer and technology leader in this field).
Veja is for subscribers only, but a copy of the interview is here.

One of the questions/answers was:

"Veja: What other projects of cooperation between Brazil and USA are in progress?

Sobel: See what incredible thing: there are barely no American tourists in the Brazilian Northeast. We intend to stimulate the tourism of our country fellows to this region. The Northeast is the region of Brazil closest to the US, features some of the most beautiful places in the country and is full of Europeans, but not of Americans. We want to work jointly with the private sector to setup new air routes between American cities and cities of the Brazilian Northeast. The tourism potential of these new routes is immense."

Mr. Sobel is a true fan of the Northeast, where he is usually seen spending holidays.

Every year, more than one million Americans visit Rio de Janeiro; this is more than the number of foreign tourists who visit Fortaleza, Natal and Recife combined. If Mr. Sobel succeeds in drawing attention to the Northeast, and new routes are created saving Americans from three or four hours flight, a big increase in visitation should occurr.

Now, this would be an excellent opportunity for the Travel Authorities of Natal to contact Mr. Sobel and beg him to offer every possible kind of help. But, telling from past experiences, this is not going to happen.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dollar breaks the R$2 barrier

Today, for the first time since February of 2001, the dollar fell below the R$ 2 barrier: markets closed with the course of US$1 = R$ 1.9890.

In 2002 and 2003, the dollar reached almost US$ 4, because President Lula used to defend ideas like non-payment of debts, punishment to wild capitalists, etc. However, after taking office, Lula continued (and in many cases deepened) the orthodox measures implanted by ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. This continuity of Economy policies, along with the excellent conditions of the international financial market, caused the dollar to fall since 2004.

This is bad news for foreign tourists, and for businesses which depend on tourism.
Many Brazilian tourists are preferring a trip to Miami or Buenos Aires rather than the Northeast, because prices in dollar are falling.
On the other hand, tourists who bring dollars to spend in Brazil are seeing their money buying less and less.
The euro has not been loosing much to the Real, so prices in euros are not going up. However, with the increase of Brazilians travelling abroad (and they must return, eventually), airline companies have less seats to sell to foreigns; this decreases availability and increases prices of tickets.

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