Brazil inspects tourism agencies operating in Rio

São Paulo, Brazil – The death of Spanish tourist Maria Esperanza Jimenez inside the Rocinha favela community, Brazil’s Tourism Ministry began to look at tourism agencies, guides and providers operating within the capital.

Christ the Redeemer is one of Rio’s most popular tourist spots

Christ the Redeemer is one of Rio’s most popular tourist spots

According to Nilo Sergio Felix, Rio’s Tourism Secretary, this week’s inspections had been already at the government’s schedule, but due to current events had been moved up.

“Our state asked for the anticipation of the work in Rio de Janeiro because we understand that tourism is one of the fastest growing segments and that it needs continuous surveys for an excellent service for our visitors,” Felix told reporters.

According to officials the intention of the inspectors is to confirm if accommodations, tourism agencies, companies and guides, running in the city of Rio de Janeiro are following the country’s General Law of Tourism. Fines for irregularities will vary from r$1,186 to r$854,000.

Tamara Barros, supervisor of tourism service providers at the ministry explained that the focus of inspectors may be on the guides. “Our goal is to create a network where qualification, investments, registration and supervision enter. We want tourism to grow in a safe way. In this way the tourist can take advantage, in each state and city, of the best each place can offer,” she told reporters.

For American-Brazilian Evan Farr, of the Jinga Experience adventure tourism company the new steps taken by authorities can also help raise tourist interest in structured tours across the city.

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“I believe that these new inspections will help tourists feel more comfortable when making decisions of choosing a tour guide or tour company. More importantly this will force tour guides and tour agencies to prioritize the safety of tourists, as well as receive the appropriate orientation by the Ministry of Tourism to make the necessary adjustments,” Farr says.

For others worried in tourism round Rio, the inspections are only part of what is needed to draw tourists to the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City).

“I think there will be added pressure on tourist guides and agencies to establish and demonstrate their credibility, but they will have to go beyond passing the government’s inspection to be competitive,” American expatriate in Rio and owner of Gringo Café, Sam Flowers tells The Rio Times.

“Just like in our case at Gringo, we pass health department and other inspections, but we have to impress customers in several more ways to actually attract them,” concludes Flowers.

As for rumors of a probable ban of favela tours, Secretary Felix discarded any talks of prohibiting tourism in the communities due to improved violence in the regions.

The Gringo Café owner agrees, going in addition and saying that the majority of foreign visitors aren’t first-time travelers. “I think that people that visit Brazil are typically savvy travelers and they look out for their own well being by depending on personal references and peer reviews when choosing guides and other services,” concludes Flowers.

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Two rebels killed in bomb blast in Thailand

Two rebel were killed in Thailand’s violence-plagued south after a bomb they were transporting prematurely detonated, the military.

voilence in thailand

Their deaths came during a night of violence crosswise over 11 regions in three of Thailand’s southern-most provinces near the outskirt of Malaysia. More than twelve explosive and bomb attacks also injured eight civilians and officials.

No group claimed responsibility regarding the attacks, which targeted police headquarters and checkpoints.

“This is the work of people who want to cause chaos. It looks like their intention wasn’t to kill but rather to cause disorder,” Colonel Yutthanam Petchmuang told Reuters news agency.

Military representative Pramote Prom-in recognized the dead as “insurgent operation leaders”.

Thailand is mostly Buddhist yet parts of the south are majority Muslim. The region has been tormented by a long-running separatist uprising as ethnic Malay rebels fight Thai troops for more self-governance from the Buddhist-majority state.

Bombings and drive-by shootings are regular in Thailand’s south, where more than 6,800 individuals, mostly civilians, have been killed since 2004.

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The nation’s southernmost border areas, previous Muslim sultanates, were attached by Bangkok more than a century ago.

The military, which seized power in a 2014 coup, has held a few rounds of negotiations with one group that claims to represent to the rebels, the Mara Patani.

But the negotiations have failed to make progress and many doubt the rebel negotiators have clout over fighters on the ground.

The biggest group initiating the insurgency, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), issued an uncommon statement prior this month restating its resistance to the present Thai army-led peace talks.

The military declines to talk with the BRN despite the fact that most analysts say Mara Patani has little influence over those doing the actual fighting.

BRN has said it will only come to the table if a third-party mediates the talks and international observers are permitted, demands Thailand’s military has over and over declined to accept.