In Brazil since July 2022, implementing and leading the new commercial and intelligence strategies of the Iberostar Group, Portuguese commercial director João Abegão is enthusiastic about the return to Brazilian soil of foreign tourists stunned by the Covid-19 pandemic. The current scenario leaves no doubt: tourism is experiencing a new moment.
In an exclusive conversation with the editor of DIÁRIO in Rio de Janeiro, journalist Paulo Atzingen, the Iberostar executive presented his perspective on the sector's recovery paths, analyzed the long-awaited arrival of foreign tourists startled by the pandemic and the guidelines for development sustainable travel market. The digital presence, he adds, is one of the pillars of this new moment in the sector.
“Virtual has become a post-pandemic banner”, measures João, warning that digital communication and sales activities are here to stay. And he gives an example: “To give you an idea, we recently did an online training course through Instagram for the US and Canadian markets, and we had 400 travel agents present”.
Abegão emphasizes that digital is essential for professional training – a growing demand after the revisions imposed by the pandemic. “We really encourage this exchange. We always run a series of new agent training webinars. On average, each edition gathers around 150 to 200 agents”.
The historic strength of domestic tourism drove the recovery of Brazilian tourism. João Abegão says that the potential of local tourists was essential for the resumption of Iberostar resorts in the country. “We were very successful in the local market and had a recovery in 2021 and a very good 2022”.
The executive celebrates that Iberostar's activities are fully recovered to the level of 2019, pre-pandemic. In the current scenario, flexibility is a key word, he teaches, highlighting the importance of adapting to new market dynamics, such as digital business. “There is a phenomenon of agencies that have not returned to face-to-face activities. We need to adapt to this new reality.
After a recovery driven by domestic tourism in the last two years, the travel sector celebrates the increasing arrival of foreign travelers. “This year, with the expansion of air frequencies and the easing of international restrictions, we are seeing a very large recovery in the Latin American market”, says João Abegão.
Iberostar's commercial director points out that the sector's recovery journey gained consistency at the end of last year, and continues to evolve in Latin America, with special emphasis on Argentina. “A good surprise was the recovery of the Chilean market; and now we are seeing an excellent return from the Uruguayan market”.
Abegão points out that international results help to balance occupations and seasonality in the domestic market. “Last year, as there were uncontrolled demands, we didn't see this seasonality as much. But now we'll see”, projects him, who evaluates. “We are working very well with the Latin America team to achieve these results at Iberostar. We are very satisfied”.
With a 14-year career at Iberostar, which began in Spain, João Abegão defends the sustainable development of tourism. “We are very interested in social development. It is one of the pillars of Iberostar in Bahia and other destinations. Iberostar is increasingly recognized as a company that promotes preservation, sustainability and the well-being of the community”.
In this year's edition of the WTM Latin America tourism fair, held in April in the city of São Paulo, Iberostar carried out an action calling attention to the responsibility of tourism in the sustainable agenda. The initiative was part of Iberostar's sustainable program, called Wave of Change 2022. On the occasion, “we placed two drinking fountains at the entrance to the fair and produced two thousand sustainable cups made from sugar cane”.
Abegão says that the hotels translate responsible tourism, present in Iberostar's DNA. As part of the company's own agenda, which has been consolidated for some years as a pioneer in responsible tourism, in 2019 Iberostar has already eliminated the use of single-use plastic in all its hotels, both in Europe and in the Americas. “In our rooms, guests will not only find glass bottles to use throughout their stay in the fountains installed in the hotels, but also sustainable amenities such as ecological dispensers”.
Iberostar's commercial director also says that sustainable initiatives follow the global development guidelines of AGENDA 2030, developed by Iberostar to define long-term commitments to increasingly responsible tourism. “This agenda is very important. Our goal is for our operation to be carbon free by 2030. As a company, we seek to include social and environmental responsibility actions in our experience”, he says.
João Abegão teaches that it is important to communicate and insert guests in this wave of change towards responsible tourism, so that they understand that they are part of this culture. “It's not easy to insert these changes into the client's daily life. That's why it's important to explain. Through communication, we transform not only the adult, but mainly the children who are the future generation of guests”.
Source: Tourism Journal