Would you know the answer?

Originally published in Brasilturis Jornal — Ed. 801 — page 6

On May 25th, 2017, according to data from www.worldwidewebsize.com, there were about 4.5 billion sites in the Internet. As you read the present text, the number shall be a little higher. Internet Live Stats site, associated to International Real Time Statistics Project, points out that every second, about 6,000 tweets are sent, 40,000 searches are made in Google, and over 2 million e-mails are sent. Again: each second.

That amount is so huge and so difficult to picture as the billions we have been ripped off of in the last few years. We know it is a lot, but it is very complicated to figure out. Well, then. Considering that huge amount of information, it is very hard to believe that one person shall, alone, concentrate a good part of the information that is required and interesting to a sector. They may even be an expert, but in that universe of data, they’d better be an expert in finding sources.

Having that in mind, one of the guests to Lucerne Worldwide Tourism Forum, held in May, 2017, transferred to the audience the responsibility to share information: he assumed everyone there would have data and opinions strong enough to convince their colleagues. Resorting to a previously planned structure, dividing the audience in groups of 6 to 8 people at comfortable desks covered with colored paper and a lot of pens, in the best “let your thoughts flow” style, he teased the attendants to answer two questions. Naturally, two questions with no defined answers, having the most different answers in keeping with the composition of each group.

The questions:

- What conversations have we been avoiding in Tourism sector and why?

- If our intention were boycotting Tourism, hospitality and events sectors, what should we do to be successful?

In the event, the most relevant response was that we avoid confronting the cost of effective sustainability and pretend our organizations and proposals are not impacting the planet at all, and to boycott the sector even more, just expand travelling restrictions, intensify prejudices and close the borders to what is “different”.

Analyzing the sentence above, on its own, would provide a Ph.D. thesis. Or two. But previously, let’s try to answer them as an exercise, but of course knowing in advance that no agreement will be reached to a single answer.

If we intended to boycott Brazilian Tourism in general, I think it would be enough to sit back and observe the other countries working seriously with relevant data and medium- and long-term strategies, while we are institutionally insisting on written, little-action plans.

Furthermore, I would say we would make massive investments in promotion — national and international — without effectively worrying about: a) our limited capacity to receive tourists, especially the international ones; b) our infrastructure problems, generating inconveniences to tourists (access, traffic jams, pollution, violence); c) the difficulty to communicate in another language, both for lack of signaling or services provision; d) visa requirements, which, when obtained, demand entry in the country within three months for keeping validity (even when many tourists come from countries where holidays are often planned years in advance); e) we wouldn’t care about the cost x benefit relationship, let alone international competition. After all, we are Brazil, that “senseixônél”.[1] place.

“What do you mean?”, you, reader, would say. “You mean promotion is not the beginning? Are we doing it wrong?”

We are not doing it wrong. We are messing up. Disconnected. FROM REALITY. Let’s see — assuming deciding on an international trip is not the same as deciding where to go for a weekend getaway, the list of options to whom lives in the North hemisphere is quite large.

If the search is for exotic destinations — and yes, as surprised as many may be, we are exotic, because we are a hot and poor country — we are in a universe of big and ferocious competition. From Southeast Asia to East and South Africa, through several islands that heavily invest in tourism, both in the Pacific and in the Caribbean. We do not speak English. And our international image is scary. Yes, scary.

In the last week of May, international newspapers and magazines that get to the audience we are interested in showed images of fire in Brasília, army on the streets, violence in all its glorious glamour. What makes the image of a country is not the advertising discourse of publicity campaigns, but what is shown in the media and social networks. Button line is, Brazil is a political memes generator with violence images.

Thus, two facts (that may and must be questioned): we are boycotting Brazilian Tourism by neglecting our target audience decision-making process, exactly because we refrain from seriously treating the subject “Brazil image abroad”.

[1] The slogan “Brazil: sensational”, makes no sense in the English language. The correct form would be: Brazil: Amazing or Exciting. But…