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Beach trips in Brazil are the preference of Brazilians in 2021

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Almost one year of official quarantine has led many people to dream of feeling the sand under their feet, feeling the breeze and swimming in the sea.

The coast is the national preference when traveling in Brazil, a trend reinforced by the feeling of freedom produced by so much time spent indoors. The favorite destinations? Northeast, for air travel, and the coast of São Paulo, for car trips.

Beach in Bahia state, Brazil. (Photo internet reproduction)
Beach in Bahia state, Brazil. (Photo internet reproduction)

“To the beach” was the answer of 60% of Brazilians heard in a Booking.com survey when asked about the types of trips they are likely to take in 2021.

“This has always existed, but with the pandemic it has intensified. With 8,000 kilometers of coastline, we were raised on the beach, traveling whenever possible,” says Luiz Cegato, Booking.com’s Communication Manager for Latin America.

The data is the result of a survey conducted online in November 2020, with 47,728 travelers in 28 countries, 1,996 of whom from Brazil.

“Regional tourism is primarily for weekend getaways, close to home and to destinations where people feel at home, that recall their childhood and family,” says Cegato. In the same question, 34% included car trips among their plans for 2021 – respondents could choose more than one answer.

The coast is always the destination of choice for the couple Luis Marsola and Renata Lajos. In December 2020 they were in Natal and then flew south to visit Balneário Camboriú in Santa Catarina.

“We usually go to the beach, to visit new places and to relax. The Northeast is home to some very beautiful beaches. I know Fortaleza, Recife, and Bahia,” says Marsola. For the 2021 vacation, he says the destination “will probably be the coast.” “Because it is at this time of pandemic, it is an open spot.”

Northeast itineraries and hotels

At Azul Viagens, total bookings for beach destinations in Brazil were up 51% in the last quarter of 2020 over the same period in 2019.

“For 2021 there’s an upward trend and we’re already up 15% compared to the same period in 2020 and 6% above 2019,” says Daniel Bicudo, the company’s director. “The Northeast represents 80% of Azul Viagens’ share. Among the main destinations, in addition to the Region, Balneário Camboriú, Rio de Janeiro and Gramado stand out.”

The São Paulo traveler is the main public in three hotels of the Carmel Network, in the coast of Ceará: Taíba Exclusive Resort, Charme Resort and Cumbuco – rates start at R$850 for a couple, with breakfast. “After the confinement caused by the pandemic, we realized that tourists want more and more to connect with nature, and the most recurrent choice is certainly the beach,” says Tarso Carneiro de Melo, CEO of the Ceará group, which also owns two hotels in Fortaleza.

“Our focus has always been service and experience. We have the so-called ‘pescado rústico’ (rustic fishing), in which a fisherman tells his story and serves grilled fish. It is a moment to get to know the region and foster local culture.”

The need for contact with nature and outdoor places has intensified among guests at the Tivoli Ecoresort Praia do Forte, in northern Bahia. “The demand for nautical activities and family experiences, such as picnics on the lawn at sunset, has increased,” says João Eça Pinheiro, the resort’s general director, with daily rates starting at R$1,492 for double rooms accommodation, including half board and Wi-Fi. The resort has also begun offering longer duration care treatments at the Anantara Spa.

“Northeast destinations, particularly Bahia, are always among the most sought after on Zarpo. Of all bookings made in January and February for travel in 2021, 50% are destined for the Northeast,” said Daniel Topper, CEO of Zarpo, an online travel agency working with 350 hotels and resorts and brands such as Atlantica and Wyndham.

Overall, the demand for airfare dropped in 2020. In April and May 2020, LATAM was operating only 5% of its flights. After a gradual pickup, the company now operates 57% of its domestic and 15% of its international flights.

Despite the difficult moment for the industry, according to LATAM, beach destinations in Brazil are the most sought after. The Northeast represents 37% of LATAM’s domestic demand in Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro has an equal share.

Beach destinations have always represented a significant percentage of packages sold by CVC in Brazil. In 2019, they accounted for 85% of domestic sales. This has not changed much: in January and February, the total number of packages bought for the coast climbed to 89%. But only in the search for accommodation.

“When it comes to accommodation only, the preference for the coast becomes even clearer. In 2020, there was a 46% growth in demand for accommodation in beach destinations compared to 2019. When it comes to sales, in 2019 accommodation in beach destinations accounted for 78% of the total. In 2020, that figure rose to 84%,” says Daniela Bertoldo, executive director of B2C Business at CVC Corp.

“This exposes another trend, on the rise since the pandemic began: that Brazilians are taking more regional trips, using their own or a rental car, a service that has also greatly grown.”

Camila Guedes Dutra Silva has already taken her daughter, Lupita, several times to the São Paulo coast. “She has loved it since she was 6 months old. I want her to enjoy the beach. Having contact with the sea and nature is always wonderful.” In her most recent trip, she took her 2-year-old a little further and approved the choice. “I love traveling to the Northeast, but now I fell in love with Balneário Camboriú.”

Remote work from the northern coast of São Paulo

Whenever he can, economist Roberto Musto escapes with his fiancée, Ana Paola Sauter Braga, for a few days at TW Guaimbê in Ilhabela. “I just got back from there. I adopted videoconferencing. I can have a meeting and I don’t need to go all the way to Brasília. This will definitely remain in my post-pandemic routine because it enhances my quality of life,” he says.

“The beach is one of the greatest natural energizers, because of the sea and sunbathing and the sense of freedom it affords us.” He says he has seen many people doing this on the coast. “We get to sit in a nook in the restaurant doing our jobs, while the wife is sunbathing and the child is playing.” But Musto stresses that nothing replaces personal contact in a business setting.

The North Coast hotel features only 16 suites on almost 4,000 m² in the heart of the forest and the sea, with access by car, boat, and helicopter (TW schedules transfers from a nearby helipad).

“Demand remains high not only for 2021, but it is already significant for 2022. The Ilhabela hotel has been the choice of those who value security and privacy, in areas surrounded by nature, and are looking for spacious suites to feel at home here too,” says Ana Luiza Jardim Barbieri, the hotel’s general manager, with rates starting at R$1,199 – from Sunday to Thursday in March and April, for a minimum of two nights.

Booking.com’s November 2020 traveler survey shows that Brazilians plan to head to the coast in 2021 both to enjoy a break and for the home office interspersed with breaks on the beach. Among Brazilian respondents, 63% said that beach destinations would likely be their choice for remote work.

At the Rede Beach hotels, on São Paulo’s northern coast, the average length of stay has been three days, but the extended stay options have also been well accepted. “Many families came to work from home office and remote schooling for their children with us, taking advantage of the free areas and turning their family days by the sea more enjoyable, but with total safety,” says Patrícia Luz, the chain’s general manager.

In Maresias, the two-day weekend package (from Friday to Sunday) costs from R$1,402.50 for a couple – children up to 5 years of age in the same room do not pay. The rate includes breakfast and beach service.

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