A survey about international tourism in Rio Grande do Norte - 2003

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Embratur, the official Tourist Board in Brazil, released on January 31st 2005 the Annuary 2003 of International Tourism in Brazil (big file, 3521 kB, PDF format).
This is the most complete report on international tourism in Brazil. To prepare the report, Embratur collects data from other official bodies (like the Federal Police, which controls borders, and Infraero, which manages most airports in Brazil), and conducts surveys with passengers at the main Brazilian gateways, to hear their impressions about Brazil (and, supposedly, act accordingly).

The data about Rio Grande do Norte can be found at the pages 86-92 of the report.
A few interesting facts:
Notice: the report refers to the year 2003. Read these comments below.
- in 2003, a total of 41,184 foreigners arrived to Brazil via Rio Grande do Norte (the figure doesnīt include people who arrived at other ports then travelled to Rio Grande do Norte)
- the massive majority of visitors were Europeans: 38,412; only 163 visitors were US citizens; only 898 were South American citizens, 793 of which were from Argentina
- Portugal was the country with the highest number of tourists: 15,607; Holland was second (6,564 visitors), and Italy was third (5,678) - August 2003 was the month with peak flow of tourists: 6,986 visitors (Table 2.8.2); July was the second busites, with 5,343 visitors. The quietest months were May and June.

Tables 3.1 and 3.2 (pages 142 and 143 of the Annuary) compare statistics between 2002 and 2003, but using data relative to the entire country. These tables show that:
- most travellers come to Brazil for tourism purposes (53.9% of total, in 2003), but a good part come for conventions and business (26.0%, in 2003)
- people are using more and more the internet to help their travelling decisions: from 4.3% in 2002 to 13.4% in 2003; however, the main factor to influence on which destination to go is "Information from friends": 51.8% in 2002, and 61.9% in 2003
- in 2002, only 34.7% of visitors were in their first trip to Brazil, and 65.3% were coming for the second or more time; in 2003, those figures were, respectively, 32.9% and 67.1%. This suggests that visitors who come to Brazil enjoy their trip, and want to return; this is confirmed by another question of the survey: 96.1% of visitors in 2002, and 97.2% in 2003, said that they had intentions to return to Brazil in the future (the survey is taken at the airports, when visitors are leaving the country).
- In 2002, Natal had 3.8% of total flow of foreigner tourists in Brazil, and was the 9th most visited city; in 2003, Natal didnīt rank amongst the 10 most visited cities, because Belo Horizonte, the 10th, had 5.1% of total. Read these comments below.
- average stay was 14.0 days in 2002 and 13.5 days in 2003;
- in 2002, the main complaint of tourists was Public Safety (10.3%), followed by Dirtiness of public places (10.2%); in 2003, main complaints were Tourist Signalization (10.3%), followed by Dirtiness (10.1%). A possible explanation is that, as tourists move away from the largest cities (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) and discover new cities (Fortaleza, Natal), the perception of violence decreases, and the lack of information in other languages has a larger effect.

A few comments:
These data, despite being as recent as of 2003, are outdated, at least when it comes to Natal.
A recent report by the Tourist Board of Natal shows that, in 2004, the number of foreigner tourists in the city increased by 130% (the largest growth among all Brazilian cities). The official results, compiled by Embratur, should be out later this year.
The survey says that, in 2003, only 332 Norges and 227 Swedes came to Natal; Finns are probably included in Others. In 2004, Scandinavians were seen all around Natal; hundreds of them arrived every week. Something similar is observed towards Argentinians: in 2003, only 793 Argentinians were counted; nowadays, their presence is much more numerous.
The statistics of Natal-Brazil.com show that the countries with more access to this site are: Portugal, USA, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Argentina, Italy, United Kingdom, Norway, Netherlands and Uruguay, in this order; many other countries also appear in the access reports.
It looks like more and more people are discovering Natal; as those who already know the city doesnīt fail to come back, the trend is that the number of tourists will go up.

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