In an interview with Travel2latam, Tabaré Vieira talks about the importance of people who work in tourism for the quality of the sector, public management, investment in strategies that have allowed us to break tourist records, New Year's Eve, wellness tourism, music festivals, carnival and much more
35th Festuris, with the theme Human Capital: Key to Transformation, and Uruguay is the guest country for this edition. How do you understand Human Capital: Key to Transformation?
In this 35th edition of Festuris, the great tourism fair of Gramado - Rio Grande Do Sul - Uruguay participates as a guest country and we have great expectations for precisely having as a key to the transformation, growth and development of tourism for the capital human.
Human capital is fundamental in any development project and it is also fundamental for tourism. More and more we need workers, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and tour operators to support public policies in the sector aimed at enriching in some way training as a basic and differentiated element.
A tourist destination, a tourist product, really develops and is attractive if it has, in addition to the offer itself, human capital, people who have specialized technical knowledge and who keep in mind that the chosen destination depends on how we treat tourists.
2023 was a year of a lot of work for Uruguay, a lot of investment in international campaigns, workshops, business rounds, fairs and training. With the actions of 2022, Uruguay had a return of more than one million Brazilians, how many Brazilians are expected to enter Uruguay in 2024? Among other South American countries?
For us the Brazilian market is increasingly important. It has enormous potential, taking into account the number of its inhabitants, which is the development of their standard of living and with it also the desire to travel.
Uruguay is a destination highly appreciated by Brazilian brothers, those who live in Rio Grande Do Sul do not need air connectivity, they come by car and everything indicates that through the promotion that has been developed jointly with the Uruguayan Chamber of Tourism, not only in the participation in fairs but also in workshops, business rounds, country presentations, through all the promotion, the number of visitors from Brazil is growing a lot.
They also do it through the different cruises. So much so that in this last quarter of 2023, visitor records have been broken, more than 150 thousand Brazilians visited us. This figure is the highest in the last ten years for that period of the year.
Therefore we hope that at the end of the year there will be a record year in that sense and that more and more Brazilian brothers will come to visit us, to take their vacations, not only at the end of the year as usual or at carnival that They are historical months, but throughout the year, since Uruguay has a diversified offer throughout its national territory.
You are one of the Latin American tourism ministers most open to dialogue. Do you think that South America and Mercosur itself should be more open to negotiating with each other regarding tourism exchanges?
Without a doubt, the joint work of South America and Mercosur is very important to enhance the regional market. In fact, the Mercosur ministers, together with Chile, Peru and Bolivia, agreed to carry out joint promotions under the “Visit South America” brand. We are focused on working in the most remote markets, we are talking about Asia, China, Arabia, Europe itself, which are markets that obviously require broader supply and market work than what just one country can offer.
Brazil has a powerful offer, Argentina too and in some way each of our countries has an interesting offer, but nowadays no one travels to go to a single destination, that is why we have agreed and in that sense it is very important that we join our efforts and under that brand “Visit South America” we can promote tourism in the region.
Delta, KLM, Qatar Airways and Azul airlines have routes from Brazil to Uruguay, what will the launches be in 2024?
Air connectivity continues to be a must in all our countries. We have not yet even managed to recover the number of frequencies and flights that we had before the pandemic. It is true that progress is being made.
Uruguay has already exceeded 90 percent recovery of what we had before the pandemic, with different airlines and with different destinations. We are working with new offers, with new possibilities and with new interests. Therefore, we hope that by 2024, some of them, such as Sky Airlines, an airline of Chilean origin that will connect Santiago with Montevideo, Lima (Peru) with Montevideo and also several destinations in Brazil with our capital, will be able to cover all the Destinations. We are working with some other regional and extra-regional lines to make this happen.
What will the end of the year parties be like in the main cities of Uruguay? What news will there be?
At the end of the year, Uruguay finds the agenda of festivals and shows, with many options both to say goodbye to the year and to welcome 2024. So the entire Uruguayan ocean coast from Punta del Este to Colonia de Sacramento, as well as the destination thermal springs on the west coast and in each of the departments with tourist offers, especially linked to rural tourism, are prepared with different festivals. Among others, Rivera Week “Rivera Brilla” stands out, the Music Festival in that same border department, everything that has to do with the coming of the carnival in the month of February on the border with Brazil. Also in the different departments of Uruguay, Montevideo with the traditional carnival of more than a month - in February - and all its Afro-Uruguayan music, present a very varied calendar of festivities both to bid farewell and to welcome the new year.
Uruguay has gone beyond wine tourism, sun and beach tourism, horse riding and is now focusing on wellness tourism. How do you see this type of tourism?
Wellness tourism is growing in Uruguay with a very interesting offer that was evident this year with the celebration of Termatalia, the most important thermal tourism and health wellness event. This event, in which Europeans, Americans, and Asians participated, was very important and I would say that it was a very interesting boost for everything that has to do with the development of wellness tourism.
Today we have a very important offer both on the Uruguayan coast and in all coastal tourism, offering what has to do with luxury tourism and what has to do with health and wellness tourism.
How much business in dollars and number of contracts is the stand at Festuris expected to generate for Uruguayan tourism?
We are attending Festuris jointly with several departmental governments and with a significant number of tour operators and governance boards from different regions of the country.
We also carry meeting tourism and other important subsectors that will be represented there, surely closing deals for next year and above all promoting the Uruguay destination with all its extremely varied offer.
It is difficult to define or put a concrete value on these businesses, but obviously the fair in Buenos Aires, the FIT, like the Festuris, and as were some other fairs that we attended a few days ago, such as the ABAV in Rio de Janeiro, are for us very important, since it is where most businesses are closed due to being in the region.
He has been a senator, now he is a minister, and his next step is the presidency of Uruguay? How does he plan to act for the growth of the Uruguayan nation?
I have had a long history of public activity and political representation, which has led me to have experience in public management, in state companies, in municipal governments, as a legislator and now as a minister of state, where I have been able to acquire knowledge, experiences, contacts. Therefore, it makes me feel very good to accept this honor that my Colorado Party has given me of proposing me as a pre-candidate for the presidency of the Republic.
Uruguay is a magnificent country, which has a history of development with social justice, with equity, a high level of historical education, with a full democracy, a validity of its institutions and a republican State that I really believe is a value at the time. to continue considering public policies that aim towards development. The speaker is a Batllista, therefore I am convinced that the State must play a role in that sense and support this equitable impulse in all its regions. Integration policies are fundamental for us since, due to our geographical dimension, our insertion in the region and the world is essential to move forward.
The work of the government to continue improving internal conditions to encourage investment, for work, for security and public policies for the development of some sectors as we did at the time with the forestry sector or with cross-border trade of free zones or through free shops, are essential for us to be able to keep pace with this growth and the possibilities of improving our international trade.
What do tourists need to enter Uruguay?
To enter Uruguay is very simple. For those who live in our region, in Mercosur, it is enough to have an identity document, no visas are needed, no special certificates or vaccinations are needed and you are always welcome.
In Uruguay there is free trade, free currency trade, the currencies of the region and the world are freely exchanged and therefore I want you to know that you can access the website of the Ministry of Tourism, www.uruguaynatural.gub . oops and there they will find all the necessary information, such as climate, currencies, health care, tourist attractions, accommodations, transportation. We are waiting for you. They are always welcome.
Interview: Mary de Aquino.