By 13 July, date of its final match, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will have brought millions of tourists to the 12 host cities of the event. These tourists (both Brazilian and foreign) are coming to do more than just watch the matches, however. They want to get to know and enjoy everything the country has to offer.
According to estimates by the Ministry of Tourism, visitors are expected to inject R$ 6.7 billion in the country's economy. Brazilian traders celebrate. In Salvador, a city already used to generating revenue from tourism (especially during Carnival), establishment owners and salesmen are already comparing their sales numbers for the World Cup with Bahia's most traditional festival.
“The expectations for the World Cup were so high that the whole summer season and Carnival were relegated to second place. From Saturday (14 June) to now, business has changed. Tourists are everywhere, and sales are sky high," said Dulce Mary of Jesus, owner of an acarajé stand in the Pelourinho, a traditional tourist spot in Salvador.
De Jesus did extra training to receive tourists. She took four months of English lessons under the federal government's National Program for Access to Vocational Training and Employment (Pronatec). Her dedication has been rewarded.
“I learned how to interact with customers, and now I can tell them what my acarajé is made of," said the Bahian, immediately proceeding to recite the name of each ingredient in English. “This is knowledge and learning that I get to keep. The World Cup is here and we'll make it count", she celebrated.
Watch Dulce Mary introduce her acarajé in English
At the heart of the Pelourinho, merchant Demir Santos, 40, was also thrilled by the large number of tourists in the city. He has a shop that sells souvenirs related to Bahia, from shirts to keychains, and also mentions Carnival to illustrate the level of success of the World Cup.
“Only Carnival is bigger than the World Cup. But the World Cup is much longer, lasts for an entire month," he explained. “It's been quite fruitful. Everyone who comes in say they are coming back," he added. Demir said the Dutch left a good impression, but highlighted that circulation was also great on Brazil match days. “Fans from the Netherlands were everywhere, but people come here in force to follow the matches when Brazil plays too.”
Projections by the Ministry of Tourism estimate that tourists visiting Salvador will inject R$ 543.4 million in the country (taking expenditures in other cities into account as well). About 300,000 people are expected to travel through the Bahia’s capital during the World Cup.
Vagner Vargas – World Cup Portal