Brazil becomes Miami's first billion-dollar foreign visitor market
By Ashley D. Torres
With a strong currency and economy, Brazilian travelers have become Miami-Dade's first international billion-dollar market, spending $1.1 billion here in 2010, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Brazilian visitors broke a 15-year record with 555,302 travelers in 2010 compared to 482,871 in 2009, up 15%.
With $1.1 billion in local spending, Brazilians are an important asset to Miami-Dade's visitor industry.
Brazil is second behind Canada for most Miami-Dade travelers with roughly a 30,000-visitor gap between the two. However, by next year, predicted William D. Talbert III, bureau CEO, Brazil will overtake Canada.
Total Miami-Dade visitor expenditures hit an all-time high in 2010 at $18.8 billion — a 10% year-over-year rise — with international visitors spending $12.4 billion and the remaining $6.4 billion from domestic travelers.
The continued strength of the Brazilian economy has been a primary contributor to the high visitor and expenditure figures. The Brazilian Real has been strong against the dollar, said Cristiano Rabelo, Miami's deputy Brazilian consul general, with Brazilians paying 1.6 Real for one dollar. In past years, the exchange rate between the two currencies reached two to three Real per US dollar.
Brazilian investors have also begun to buy Miami-Dade real estate, Mr. Rabelo said, which is a direct result of Brazil's strong economy.
And as the dollar remains weak due to deficits and the slow economic recovery, more Brazilian visitors and investors are expected.
Brazil's close proximity to Miami's shore — roughly a seven- to eight-hour flight — and friendly international ties have also contributed.
"The United States," Mr. Rabelo said, "has a significant influence culturally in Brazil."
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