While travel to Europe will become slightly more difficult starting in 2021, travel to Brazil just became much easier for U.S. citizens. Starting June 17, American, Canadian, Australian and Japanese citizens who wish to disembark in Brazil—whether that’s for tourism or business—will be exempt from visas and their fees. The end of the requirement is part of a decree published by the Brazilian government on Monday, March 18.
According to the decree, the benefit is extended to visitors who have valid passports traveling for leisure and business tourism, artistic or sporting activities or in exceptional situations for national interest. The initiative is valid also for tourists in transit in Brazil. The stay can last up to 90 days, extendable for the same period if it does not exceed 180 days, every 12 months, counted from the date of the first entry into the country.
The measure is a continuation of Brazil’s efforts to facilitate visitor access to the country. Last year, it launched an e-visa platform that allowed visitors to apply for a visa more efficiently. Now, the removal of the requirement from the four countries is expected to continue to increase the number of visitors in the country. The four countries benefiting from the visa waiver were part of a pilot project started in 2017 that implemented the electronic visa for anyone from these countries wishing to visit Brazil. According to the World Tourism Organization, visa facilitation measures can increase the flow of tourists by 25 percent in countries that adopt the practice.
“This is one of the most important achievements of the Brazilian tourism industry in the last 15 years and we are confident that it will be extremely beneficial to the country," said Marcelo Alvaro Antônio, minister of tourism. "This decision of the Brazilian government proves that we are living a new moment and that tourism is being seen as a vector of economic and social growth of the entire nation. This is the first step; we still have much to celebrate.”
According to the Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau, Brazil showed even better results. In just one year of operation of the electronic visa, there was a 35.23 percent increase in visa applications (electronic and traditional); the Brazilian Tourist Board (Embratur) reports there were 169,910 visas issued in 2017, compared to 229,767 in 2018. Overall, the removal of visa requirements for the four countries alone is expected to have a $1 billion impact on the Brazilian economy.
The expectation of the Ministry of Tourism is that the measure will help the country reach the mark of 12 million foreign visitors by 2022 compared to the current 6.6 million figure.
Until the June 17 start date, e-visas will still be required to enter the country.
This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.