Brazil is one of the world’s booming tourist destinations, and the World Cup 2014 will give it a further swing. Unfortunately, social issues appear to be intertwined with the economic growth of the country, and give a slightly different picture from Brazil’s sexy images as they go around the world about Carnival in Rio. Sex tourism, child labor, exploitation and human trafficking have increased over the past years and they will continue to greatly affect local people, families and entire communities. It is hard to combat the various human rights abuses occurring, but awareness is a first step. Lucía Saenz Torrero just completed an information dossier “Social Impacts of Tourism in Brazil” in the framework of the Global Sustainable Tourism Review. The dossier can be downloaded in the Publications section of this website.

Brazil saw high economic growth in past years, and today it’s one of the leading economic powers. Tourism is an important economic activity in much of the country; Brazil is the second most popular destination in South America. The most visited areas are Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Salvador de Bahia, in addition to coastal cities and resort areas. The tourist industry provides jobs to people from all around the country. This year Brazil will host the World Cup, probably causing a rise in tourists as well as tourism-employed locals. Tourism often brings economic benefits, but it can also cause negative environmental or social impacts. Through tourism-based economic growth, Brazil developed inequalities between social classes. There’s a Brazil of development and modernity, where prosperity is increasing. On the other side, however, there is a poor Brazil. Slums, favelas, see much poverty, crime, prostitution and drugs.

Crimes often increase with tourism, presence of tourists with money increases attraction for criminals. In tourist areas of Brazil many children do unrecognized jobs like shoe shining, street vending and begging. Also, Brazil has become a main destination for sex tourism.[1] We found many forms of exploitation, including forced labor and sexual exploitation. Both are closely linked to tourism[2]. According to Brazilian authorities, above 250,000 children were victim of prostitution in 2011 [ECPAT]. There is much organized trafficking in Brazil, its border areas are extra vulnerable as they serve as a source of trafficked persons to and from abroad[3]. The Brazilian government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making efforts to do so [UNDOC]. Despite their advances, however, problems remain[4].

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[3] Enfrentamento ao trafico de pessoas, Relatório do Plano Nacional, 2010