Interview with Felipe Wellaton, deputy secretary of tourism for the state of Mato Grosso

Felipe Wellaton recently took over as deputy secretary of tourism for Mato Grosso, exactly 6 months ago. He was a councilor in Cuiabá, when he was a candidate for Federal Deputy, he was the only one who defended the strength of the economy through tourism

(Source: Mary de Aquino)

Wellaton traveled for two years to more than 100 municipalities across the state of Mato Grosso, the state has 141 municipalities. She got to know the three biomes: Pantanal, Cerrado and Amazon. The politician is a tourismologist by training, knows more than 30 countries and aims to create more tourist attractions within the state.

You recently took over as deputy secretary of tourism, how do you intend to promote Mato Grosso at business fairs?

I've been at the secretariat for six months and we did a complete market survey, especially because Mato Grosso is a giant. It is the third largest state in Brazil. We compare it with countries, it is 7 times the size of the United Kingdom, 3 times the size of Italy, 10 times the size of Portugal. So he is gigantic! And having three biomes, I have particularities per region and we are designing which fairs we will participate in next year, aimed at these markets. 
Today our state is the only state where extractive fishing is prohibited from fishing tourism, we have three basins, the platinum basin which is the Pantanal basin, the Amazon basin and the Tocantins Araguaia basin. So, I have the greatest diversity of fish in Brazil, because I have different tributaries and I have different biomes and that is why at the moment we are focused on two products: keeping the fairs in this market also aimed at the advertising market focused on the national and regional consumer through social networks, through partnerships with influencers, with press trips, with journalists and also returning to this connection through websites.

What tourist products in Mato Grosso do you believe have the potential to win over foreign tourists?

The state of Mato Grosso has great products aimed at the international market. We have several villages that provide us with ethnotourism experience tourism, one of the main ones is located in the municipality of Campo Novo do Parecis, the indigenous village is located in a beautiful region with rapids, waterfalls, water jumps, various beauties that are sought after by the international market.

We also have our Pantanal, called Pantanal Norte by many, it is our main destination, and it is worth mentioning that we are located in the region where there is the largest concentration of jaguars on the planet, in the Encontro das Águas park, you can take a walk and observe our cats. We are closing a partnership to make a film “Two Sisters – The March of the Jaguars”, it is being made in partnership with the producer Bonne Pioche, which won an Oscar with the production of the film “March of the Penguins”. Our goal is to show people how preserved our Pantanal is, and how much beauty they can find here.

In the Bird Watching segment, we can say that of all the birds that exist in Brazil, fifty percent of them are found in Mato Grosso, and of the five best birding points, three are located in our state, which is why we are investing in this market. We will participate in all fairs, in partnership with EMBRATUR, and we are looking at the UK market where we intend to be present at the Birdfair fair.

We are also analyzing the North American market, which has direct flights to Brazil today, facilitating all the logistics so that we can receive this international tourist who is interested in our ethnotourism, adventure tourism, ecotourism, bird and feline watchers, among many others. other beauties you can find in Mato Grosso.

Mato Grosso do Sul has a lot of diversity for those who like water, what would you highlight within the state's nature?

Mato Grosso is difficult to choose which color of water you want, either emerald green or crystal blue. There are several waterfalls, canyons and also lagoons for diving. We have the Nobres region, which is less than 100 kilometers from the capital and is a limestone region, with lagoons, caves, crystal clear waters for you to dive with various freshwater fish. You have Barra do Garças which is in the eastern region of the state. You have canyons, waterfalls, including inside the city, hot waters. All of this in one place, with a freshwater beach. And you also have Vila Bela in Santíssima Trindade, there is a city to the west of the state that also has Canyons, the Jatobá Waterfall which is one of the largest in Brazil and is the Cerrado of Mato Grosso, which has typical fruits, many flavors and with This is an underground that is full of freshwater aquifers that actually overflow water from springs, in short, Mato Grosso is a rich state with waterfalls and aquifers.

Mato Grosso is very powerful in agribusiness, which has caused interest in the destination to grow significantly. How does this internationalization of the state work in practice?

Business tourism is a reference for the state of Mato Grosso. We are champions in the production of soybeans, cotton, cattle, one of the largest producers of poultry and also pork. 
Mato Grosso is the breadbasket of Brazil, that's how it is known and the city of Sinop, for example, already has direct flights because it is considered the Texas of Brazil, a highly productive city, we call it the production corridor , which is the corridor of Nova Mutum, Lucas do Rio Verde, Sorriso and Sinop, which is the corridor with the largest cargo flow in the world and we have several industries that are attracting international markets, both from the Middle East market and from the European and North American market for investment in various industries, such as the corn ethanol industry. Today we have the production of a one hundred percent sustainable fuel produced from corn, which we plant in the region, that is, we are able to close a cycle of production and sustainability, after all, Mato Grosso, in addition to being a major producer, is also A great preserver, 68% of the state's Amazon Forest is preserved.

How is access for tourists to enter the state?

Mato Grosso is in the center of Brazil and today to reach the state of Mato Grosso is through the São Paulo, Guarulhos or Brasília or Manaus connection, these are the three internationalization points of Brazil's airports. 

It is also possible that the Marechal Rondon Airport in Cuiabá, the state capital, will be internationalized in the future. This discussion is already undergoing a renovation at the airport, which ends in January and we begin negotiations with federal agencies, the Federal Police, Anvisa for the internationalization of the airport in the coming years. We really believe in this agenda because internationalization is happening.
We are in the center of Brazil, so we are reducing geographical distances and we are certainly dreaming of a direct flight from Cuiabá to Miami. Through commercial aviation we have airports prepared to receive both commercial aviation and air taxi companies that operate charter flights.

Report and photo: Mary de Aquino 

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