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Brazil will soon eliminate visa requirements for visitors from the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia, although firm timelines have not yet been announced.

The nation’s Tourism Minister Marcelo Alvaro Antonio said on Wednesday that the decision came from the newly-elected Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, as part of the Foreign Ministry’s effort to boost the country’s lagging tourism industry.

“The [previous administration] treated the United States as an adversary, but not our government,” Antonio said. “President Bolsonaro wants to embrace the United States as a partner of Brazil.”

Bolsonaro assumed office on Jan. 1, and the no-visa initiative is part of his Foreign Ministry’s plan for his first 100 days in office. Bolsonaro won his election on a right-wing populist campaign, successfully unseating the leftist Workers Party that has been in control of the Brazilian government for 13 of the past 15 years. Bolsonaro, a vocal Trump admirer, has actively worked to realign Brazil with the United States, turning away from the previous administration’s focus on fostering relationships with other developing economies.

Under the Workers Party administration, Americans had to undergo stringent visa requirements to enter Brazil, mirroring the experience of Brazilians who sought US entry visas: A Brazilian tourist visa currently costs US passport holders $44 for two-year entry, or $160 for 10-year entry.

Although Brazil boasts the largest economy in Latin America, its tourism industry falls far short of its potential. The nation currently receives 6.6 million foreign tourists a year; in comparison, New York City alone had more than twice as many visitors in 2017. Brazil hopes to double the number of annual international visitors by 2022, and eliminating tourist visas for select countries should go a long way toward that goal. The Tourism Ministry also plans to double its spend on international tourism advertisements, to more than $34 million by 2023. 

Featured photo by Shutterstock.

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