Despite the loss of more than R$ 395 billion brought by the pandemic to tourism, according to the CNC (National Confederation of Commerce of Goods, Services and Tourism), the outlook for the future is optimistic. According to the organization, the sector should recover by the end of the year.
Businesswoman Vivianne Braga, 44, who owns eight franchises at the CVC agency, bets on a repressed demand from Brazilians who want to travel after being vaccinated.
“The opening of the US border will be the great moment for the recovery, but the pace of sales has already accelerated. When Dubai received Brazilians again, we started to sell a lot of trips there. Now it’s France’s turn.”
The biggest search has been for national destinations, according to Vivianne. “People are still losing their fear. They have preferred smaller trips, with shorter flights. It will be a gradual return until we sell more elaborate international trips, mainly because of the dollar.”
A survey by consulting firm EY shows that, in February this year, only 23% of Brazilians felt comfortable traveling by plane.
Although optimistic, the businesswoman says she does not know when she will be able to rebuild the cash and return to the pre-pandemic billing level.
“In July, we had more than expected demand, but nothing compared to previous years”, he says.
What weighed on the budget were the costs of maintaining the business with the stores closed. In November 2020, the best month since the start of the pandemic, sales reached only 50% of the same month in 2019, she says.
Vivianne did not fire any employees during the crisis. According to her, the provisional measures issued by the federal government, which allowed for the reduction of working hours and wages, were an important help to keep the entire team.
For Mariana Aldrigui, president of the tourism board of FecomercioSP (Federation of Commerce of Goods, Services and Tourism of the State of São Paulo), the 2021-2022 summer will be the best in the history of tourism in Brazil, thanks to the combination of repressed demand with advanced vaccination and expensive dollar.
André Friedheim, president of the ABF (Brazilian Franchising Association), also believes that “the worst is over”. For him, the resumption of the sector will bring a consumer with new preferences and demands, among them a greater concern with hygiene and sanitary protocols.
“This will generate an extra cost for the entire industry, but it will also be a great differential for consumer choice. We didn’t really care about these things before the pandemic.”
Vivianne confirms that this is already happening and that she had to prepare her team to answer questions from customers and help them find options that made them comfortable. “We have been calling the hotels to find out how each meal is going, what the protocols are. We need to pass this security on to the consumer”, she says.
Another big change anticipated by companies in the sector is the decrease in business travel, which dropped sharply during the pandemic and should increasingly be replaced by online meetings.
The city of Atibaia, about 65 km from São Paulo, felt this movement — its hotels used to host large corporate events and trainings. In quarantine, they made room for guests who live in nearby urban centers and were looking for a quiet place to do their home office.
According to Bruno Leal, secretary of tourism for Atibaia, between 10 and 15 thousand families came to the city during the health crisis. “They rented seasonal properties or settled permanently in houses they only used for vacations,” he says.
Business trips correspond to the vast majority of the flow of foreigners who come to Brazil, and even those who visit the country on leisure should start prioritizing other destinations, says Aldrigui, who is also a professor at USP, where he conducts research on the sector.
“Brazil’s image as a business or leisure destination, whether for immediate trips or in the future, is tarnished,” she says, citing political turmoil and the federal government’s conduct of the pandemic as an example. “This image can lead to delays and even cancellations of travel plans.”
The researcher also foresees another obstacle to the resumption, especially for smaller projects: the lack of qualified personnel. She cites as an example waiters, maids and employees involved in the production of events — people who would have migrated to other areas during the pandemic.
“Although this movement has not yet been mapped with numbers, the loss of this technical competence is something that will reduce our productivity”, says Aldrigui.
She predicts that companies in the segment will pay lower salaries and hire younger and less qualified people. “The time that a business owner will take to train this employee again and resume service speed will be greater,” he says.
For Vivianne, all that remains is to celebrate sales in July, which were better than last year, and bet on the reopening of borders. “The cruises are back in operation in November, we have already started to sell these trips.”