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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