Brazil will champion its Black heritage internationally on an unprecedented scale through its first-ever nationwide Afrotourism (Black Tourism) promotion plan. Set to be fully launched in 2024, the initiative by the Brazilian Tourist Board (Embratur/Visit Brasil) will include a web series, commercial agreements, marketing campaigns, and partnerships with several organizations and communities working with Afrotourism today.
The launch aims to make Brazil the world's number one Afrotourism destination, promoting destinations, experiences, and routes that celebrate the history and culture of Black people in Brazil. Attractions in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and São Paulo will be featured, with a goal to drive sustainable, community-based tourism projects.
Afrotourism in Brazil not only celebrates Black culture but also contributes to social change and anti-racism movements. It promotes the transformation of thinking to combat racism, empowering individuals and supporting local communities economically.
As Nilzete Santos, owner of the Salvador-based tourism agency Afrotours, put it: "The idea of Afrotourism is to promote the transformation of thinking so as to avoid racism, that is, to bring upon situations through which a person will begin to know themselves and therefore promote anti-racism".
The economical support of local communities is also a big feature of this vibrant sector, allowing international visitors to invest in a sustainable form of tourism. "The community is satisfied, because it provides meals, accommodation… In addition to bringing [the tourists] here, we have the satisfaction of assisting them and seeing the economy growing", said Mestre Dumdum, coordinator of Casa do Nego Fugido, a cultural association from Bahia.
Embratur's president Marcelo Freixo wants these values to be the ones that shape Brazil's image abroad. "We want the world to come and visit a democratic Brazil, which values its diversity, promotes inclusion and does not tolerate racism. The Brazil that returned is the Brazil that is proud of its African heritage and wants it to generate jobs, income and sustainable development”, he declared.
The Embratur’s coordinator of Diversity, Afrotourism, and Indigenous Peoples, Tania Neres, explained that Afrotourism has become one of the significant movements in the global market against racism. "We will bring back all the stories that have been erased and tell the truth because now we tell the truth. Many important figures who can empower people and also showcase to the world, including the foreign market, how powerful we are in everything", added Tania Neres.
The plan consolidates several actions already put in motion by Embratur, such as striking a partnership with travel giant TripAdvisor and producing a web series about the impacts of Afrotourism in Brazil.
Through its partnership with Embratur - the first of its kind - TripAdvisor - now has a page that highlights Afrotourism attractions in Brazil for its readers across the globe. This was also announced during the opening of the Visit Brasil Gallery (a travelling promotional and cultural event) in London in early November.
"Our mission is not only to showcase the richness of this incredible sector but to stimulate the demand for Afrotourism in Brazil, and boost Afro-Brazilian entrepreneurs from the travel industry. In this endeavour, we bridge cultures, connect people, and foster understanding, ultimately promoting sustainable tourism", said Eoin McGregor, head of TripAdvisor Ad Express & Reseller Partnerships, at the time.
In the same manner, the web series produced by Embratur also shows to international travellers the abundance of culture they can come in contact with should they choose to travel to Brazilian Afrotourism destinations.
At the time of writing, two of the planned three parts of the series are already online, with the third dropping on November 20. The date is also Black Consciousness Day - a national holiday when Brazilians pay respects to the massive contribution the Black peoples made to the country.
Black Travel route
Brazil is set to heavily promote Afrotourism destinations across its territory, creating a route with plenty of experiences available to tourists. You can discover some of them below.
1 - City: São Paulo.
Experience: The Black São Paulo Walk
The Black São Paulo Walk rescues black stories, which are found throughout the city. A visit to São Paulo will offer an immersive and unique experience that will take you from Quilombos Urbanos, passing by the Nossa Senhora Rosário dos Pretos church, to Liberdade, a recognised neighborhood that has a cultural connection with black history.
Adding to the list of places and experiences, the Thebes Monument, the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art and the Zumbi dos Palmares statue are part of the extensive framework and narrative of black representations.
2 - City: Rio de Janeiro.
Experience: Little Africa
This tour is an outdoor historical and cultural tour for visitors, or even a field lesson for students and educators. On the tour, we highlight unsung characters in Brazilian history, such as André Rebouças, Tia Ciata, Donga, Machado de Assis, João Alabá, Prata Preta, among others.
Furthermore, when delving deeper into the Rio de Janeiro territory, one can discover that Cais do Valongo has its role as a relevant and imposing place in black culture.
Brazilian. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site appears as an important memorial to black identity and an exceptional value for Brazil.
3 - City: Salvador
Experience: One Week in Bahia
Bahia is one of the most unique and impressive states in all of Brazil. Salvador is a vibrant city, with a rich history and a stunning coastline! Chapada Diamantina has an equally fascinating history, home to several traditional communities and stunning landscapes of mountains, rivers, caves and waterfalls.
4 - City: São Luís
Experience: The Path of Legends Walk
A walking tour centered on the legacy of black African people as part of the local historical-cultural identity, where the guides give visibility to the history of a people who contributed greatly to the formation of Maranhão culture.
Marked by the National Black Consciousness Day, observed on November 20th, the month of November is dedicated to black consciousness and the anti-racist struggle with events, debates, and festivals. "It is very important that this month represents the cultural and ancestral potential of the black people throughout Brazil," said Tania Neres.
The Brazilian Tourist Board (Embratur) is the driving force behind the implementation of the National Tourism Policy, specializing in the promotion, marketing, and support of Brazilian tourist destinations, services, and products in the international arena. Embratur's efforts are instrumental in fostering social and economic development for the nation by boosting the influx of international tourists to Brazil.