By Marc Jorgensen

The falls of Iguazu, Copacabana beach, the beachside sand dunes of Genipaubu, are exotic destinations for foreigners and until more recently for most Brazilians, as well.  Young professionals I know in São Paulo and Rio have commented on the elevated socioeconomic status of those who travel.  As more Brazilians enter the middle class, more are catching the travel bug.  They want to visit Europe and America, but much of this new increase in travel has been domestic, as outlined in this FT article.

In the past poor infrastructure and limited transportation options meant high airfares and long 12+ hour bus rides. However in recent years low cost airlines like Webjet started in 2005 and Azul (2008) have sought to incentivize potential customers with low fares and affordable payment plans.  A quick jaunt to a local favorite like Porto Seguro Bahia, might cost just $15 a month, over a ten month period.  These strategies open up such options for those on the lower end of the middle class with limited credit.

While many middle class Brazilians are traveling more within Brazil, trips to the U.S have increased as well.  In March, visas granted for travel from Brazil to the U.S increased 62% from a year earlier.  All this portends a further shaping of the travel industry to accommodate these new middle class travelers.

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