International tourism in Natal grows 130% in 2004

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Source: Rio Grande do Norte Tourism Board

Presence of foreigner tourists in the State of Rio Grande do Norte grows by 130% in 2004

Economic activiy in permanent expansion, tourism is becoming one of the most important sources of revenues of the State of Rio Grande do Norte, overcome only by the petroleum industry.
Wednesday, January 5th 2005

Economic activy under permanente expansion, the tourism sector has been consolidating a position as second most important source of revenue (taxes) in Rio Grande do Norte, surpassed only by the petroleum industry (Note of the webmaster: Petrobrás has large bases in Mossoró and other cities; Rio Grande do Norte is the State which produces most petroleum off land fields in Brazil; Rio de Janeiro, the largest producer, has only off shore fields). From January to October of 2004, the number of passengers who arrived at the International Airport Augusto Severo grew by 30.8%, in comparison to the same period of 2003. The Tourist Board estimates that 1.7 million tourists, Brazilian and foreigners, had visited Rio Grande do Norte in 2004.

The number of foreigner tourists, in 2004, grew by 130% in comparison to 2003. The number of Brazilian tourists grew by 25%. "Strengthening tourism has a high priority in my government. Tourism creates jobs and income, which help diminish social unequalities in our State", said Governor Wilma de Faria.

The business people of the travel sectors are expecting the high season to set new records. Hotels are sold out for the New Year´s Eve celebration, and the number of charter flights arriving in Natal keep increasing. In December 2004, it is estimated that 127 domestic flights had landed at the Augusto Several, averaging more than four per day. For January 2005, 197 domestic charter flights are expected.

The reasons why Natal has become, over the past two years, one of the most popular touristic destinations, behind Salvador (Bahia) and Fortaleza (Ceará) only, are not just the beaches and the natural attractions. Two strong factors contributed to boost the tourism sector, which generates over 120,000 jobs in the hotels businesses alone, to offer 36,000 beds to visitors. The first factor is the marketing of the State, that the Tourist Board has been promoting in Brazil and abroad, in relevant tourism fairs. The second factor is the improvement of the tourist infra-structure, result of the investments in the sector.

"We want to make even more investments in marketing, to attract tourism all through the year", said the Governor. According to her, attractions in Rio Grande do Norte should not be only "sun and beach". "We are working to bring tourists to see the interior of the State, like the mountain cities Martins and Portalegre, and the archeologic site of Lajedo de Soledade, in Apodi; we wanto also increment the tourism of events", she said.

The note mentions some investments made by the State:
- restoring of the Convention Center, which now can host bigger events
- reurbanization of Praia da Redinha, at a cost of R$1,4 million; the kioskes were redesigned, the walkway and the parking spaces were refurbished
- the Hotel School Barreira Roxa, which prepares the work force to the tourist sector, was given an extra budget
- for 2005, the reurbanization of Via Costeira is a priority
The State of Rio Grande do Norte signed an agreement with the federal government, and will receive R$ 185 million to be directed in infra-structure investments to improve the tourism sector

Also, the note informs that, over the next two years, R$ 480 million will be spent in private investments, like the building of new hotels. "This shows that the investors are betting on Rio Grande do Norte", says the Tourist Secretary, Nelson Freire.

Comment by Natal-Brazil: this note mentioned only the growth of the number of tourists, but didn´t mention the absolute number; this other survey, published by Embratur, shows that, in 2003, the exact number of foreigner tourists arriving in Natal was 41,184. So, applying the growth factor of 130%, we can estimate the total number of tourists in Natal in 2004 as approximately 94,000 people.

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