Introduction.The Carnival is arguably the largest party on the planet, and Brazil is the proud host country. For most of the local youth as well as tourists visiting the country, it is a period of celebrations and fun. The samba being the feast’s trademark dance is quickly learned, and preparations are made for four days of feasting, dancing and making merry. However, the festival has a religious connotation. Carnival is a period just before Lent, during which meat is eaten in preparation for the fast. After the commencement of Lent, meat is not consumed in this traditional Catholic country. During Carnival, many Samba troupes – called ‘blocos’ – compete before a jury for the prestigious title of best dance group. Use of evocative costumes and floats is common in establishing and advancing each bloco’s theme. Most of Brazil closes up during this festival that attracts tourists from many parts of the world in their hundreds of thousands, even millions, come to witness, participate, and enjoy what many accept to be the largest festival in the world. Brazilians out of their country, either as emigrants, students or tourists on work or business, have been instrumental in introducing Carnival to the countries they reside in. The United States provides a good example of such a country. This paper seeks to look into Brazil’s tourism industry from a festival, and parade perspective. Carnival provides the best option to do this.
Brazil at a glance.As the 5th largest country in the world, and the second largest on the American continent, Brazil enjoys a wide geographical region. It is divided into four main regions, namely; the Paraguay basin, Amazon basin, two depressions and a long coastline. Large parts of the country are unpopulated, especially the Amazon basin, and large populations reside in the urban regions – especially large cities, as reported by Greenberg (1993).
Brazil has an estimated population of 171 million people, divided into several ethnicities. 55% are of European descent, 38% are mullato, and 6 % are African. This translates to origins of Brazilians being; Portuguese, Spanish, Germans, Japanese, Amerindians, and Africans. Portuguese language is the official language, but Spanish, English, and French are used locally.
Brazil is one of the fastest growing countries in the world from an economic perspective. Being the largest producer of oranges and coffee, the country also performs splendidly in terms of soybeans, rice, sugar cane, corn and animal products. However, agriculture accounts for less than a tenth of its GDP, with the manufacturing industry contributing 33%, and service industry more than 55%. Chemicals, textiles, metal ore and shoes products from most of the industrial products.
Brazil’s tourism pull-factors.
Brazil’s tourism industry is a vibrant affair, as millions visit the country every year bringing in billions of dollars in revenue. Some factors have been identified that are integral in promoting this industry. Soccer is perhaps the most famous, since one cannot mention Brazil without thinking of soccer. Being the only country to have won the world cup four times, Brazil is touted as one of – if not – the best team in the world. Pele, one of the best football players in history is Brazilian, as are Kaka, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, and Ronaldo. These, and the Maracan – the largest football stadium in the world – make Brazil a tourist attraction that sees millions travel to the country each year.
According to Selby (1998), the Amazon is the largest natural rainforest in the world. This vast belt of flora and fauna is large and diverse, attracting an equally vast array of tourists ranging from adventure- driven individuals, to scientists and explorers. It is estimated that more than 15 thousand individual species of animals and plants are yet to be identified, as well as a few human tribes, and scientific phenomena. The Amazon –longest river in the world – also flows through Brazil’s Amazon’s part of the Amazonia, bringing in throngs of adrenaline driven, nature-conscious, and conservation-driven tourists. Many more come to just awe at the sight of the world’s largest natural park.
The Carnival is characterized by numerous parades and festival throughout the country, but the ones at its capital city are the largest and most glamorous. The Guinness Book of World Records reports that as the largest festival, as attendance exceeds a million people. In 2013, the attendance in Rio de Janiero alone was estimated at 1.3 million according to the Tourism Company of the Municipality of Rio. In addition, an interesting aspect to this fact is that a third of the attendees were foreign tourists.
The entire country’s revenue from this year’s festival is reported to be more than US $ 2.9billion. This is from the 6.2 million people who attended the entire country’s parades and festivals. Such figures portray the event’s importance as an important contributor to the country’s domestic and foreign tourism industry.
History of the Brazilian Carnival.Immigrants from the Portuguese islands of Acores, Madeiras, and Cabo Verde are the earliest reported sources of the culture that precipitated Carnival. In 1723, they introduced ‘Entrudo’, a parade that involved throwing lime and water on the streets. Historical accounts present a case of a lady arrested in 1855 after throwing lime at Don Pedro’s escorts. That is stated as the first arrest of an unlawful attendee of the Carnival. Jose Nogueira de Azevedo also contributed to the inception of the Carnival through his street parades. He would march in the streets, tambourines, drums and pans in hand as he welcomed everyone to the fun.
In contrast to the informal setup if earlier Carnival parades, the Great Societies was a more organized parade that involved a number of aristocrats in masks, luxury costumes, and flowers. In the presence of the Emperor, these eighty individuals danced and three groups stood out as the best. These are; ‘Fenanios’, ‘Democraticos’ and ‘Tenentes do Diabo’, and were considered the origin of blocos. A couple of decades later, in the 1870’s, concepts such as poverty, aristocracy, witchcraft and religion, were introduces into the now popular festival. Masks formed using papier-mache, and portraying all the themes were worn
Local investors identified the potential of such festivals and parades, and started sponsoring the events. A brewery in Hanseatica sponsored the works of the Bahia group in popularizing the Carnival’s festivals. Based on the popular culture of drinking during the same, such investment paid off for their donors, and played an integral role in familiarizing the parades to other parts of the country and world. Beatie (2004), points out how the 1940’s and 1950’s, Samba became the trademark dance of the Carnival. Later, Samba schools were set up, and competition encouraged leading to the modern Carnival.
Factors influencing the Carnival and tourism in Brazil.
Carnival’s largest parade, the Rio de Janiero one, is a major tourist attraction as stated by the country’s tourism governing body. Some factors have been identified as important contributors to this great festival, and are also directly responsible for Brazil’s tourism growth.
The transport infrastructure in Brazil is quite advanced and supportive tot tourism. Its national airline, Varig, has direct flights to all major cities in America, Asia and Europe. This makes coming to either Rio de Janiero, or Sao Paulo very easy. Brazil being the fifth largest country in the world, makes travelling on the land an arduous affair. Thus, internal flights are also a common means of travelling. This demand has led to the emergence of a booming regional jet manufacturing industry in the form of the Embraer Company. Most roads are surfaced and the existence of good coach service complemented by a good railway system make it easy to move around Brazil. All these facilities are important in moving the millions that visit Brazil especially during the Carnival.
Accommodating more than 6 million tourists for less than a week for the Carnival is a tricky affair. The range of services available for tourists ranges from bed and breakfasts installations, to five and seven star luxury facilities. Many of the international heavy weights in terms of hospitality are present in Sao Paulo, as well as Rio de Janiero, making attending the Carnival easier.
Brazilian cuisine plays an important role in attracting and retaining tourists. During the period preceding Lent, which is when Carnival takes place, meat dishes are commonly consumed in anticipation for the fast and abstinence from meat foods, according to Karoff (1989). Feijoada is a dish that presents a wide variety of meats with beans and other accompaniments.
Sea food is also common during the parades, with fish in tangerine sauce as the favorite. These coupled with other common dishes, such as fruit cake and spicy sauces complement the general atmosphere that engulfs millions during this period of festivity. Numerous cocktails, liquors and beers are consumed alongside the dishes. Rum, Wines and other alcoholic beverages are the mainstay.
Political stability supports development, which in turn provides conducive environments for social activity, including tourism. Brazil gained independence in 1822, after which the country underwent a long period of military regimes and oppressive dictatorships. In the middle of this century, the country changed regimes and started fair democratic processes, which are supported the current social, economic and technological development. Tourists coming for the Carnival or any other activity are convinced that their safety is guaranteed on seeing the currently stable, political scenario.
Problems associated with Carnival and tourism in Brazil general.
Over 6million tourists visited Rio de Janiero alone this year for the Carnival festival, precipitating an already bad overpopulation problem. Rio is a city already overflowing and suffering under the burden of sustaining more inhabitants than its infrastructure and resources were designed for. The Carnival pits these happy revelers against disgruntled locals in celebrations that make managing such large crowds virtually impossible.
A large gathering such Carnival bringing together high spirited, young and old people presents the best scenario for law breakers to carry out all sorts of evils. Anything from urinating in the streets, to pilferage, muggings and even stabbings have been reported as the party and festivities carry on. Military police officers have to be deployed to assist normal policing instruments, and even these fail in trying to curb the wave of crime that hits Brazil each time the Carnival takes place. Most of the lawbreakers are charged with indecent behavior, automotive infractions and dumping, but these are simple crimes compared to rape, abduction, murder and sexual slavery cases that get reported each year, dampening the spirit of potential tourists.
Social-economic problems brought to light during the Carnival include; homosexuality, indecency, drug use and abuse, racism and difference in social class. Albuquerque (2004), reports that homosexuals and transsexual individuals openly display themselves thus portraying Brazil – a traditionally Catholic country – as a supporter of the same. Drugs are peddled and used during the parades leading to increased crime. Racism, a common problem in multiethnic Brazil, comes to the limelight as the minority Black and mullato individuals are shunned by whites. Poverty is also demonstrated by the numerous street families residing in the alleys as the affluent foreign and domestic tourists enjoy themselves, oblivious of the suffering around them.
Pollution levels from the festivity and parade activities are another problem, as tones of garbage are produced on a daily basis. Those attending Carnival on the street level consume hundreds of thousands of liters of juices, beer and water. These are packaged in plastic containers that are most often dumped irresponsibly. Estimates put daily waste at more than 700 tones of such according to Rossi (2013), a concern for the country in times when global efforts to conserve and recycle are in high gear. In addition to these, urination and defecation present another major problem since amenities cannot cater for the sudden influx of millions in a city already struggling to handle its domestic waste. Numerous cars are used during the Carnival adding a large portion to Rio’s already large carbon footprint.
The current global economic hardships present another problem that faces the Carnival. The Rio City government has had to dig into its pockets for some years now since tourists numbers have been on a steady decline, rendering the city unable to meet the costs of the large Carnival. Large Brazilian companies are also pulling out of the Carnival as stated by Nlemar (2013), leaving the city government with the large burden of handling the large deficits involved.
Conclusion.Carnival continues to be an integral part of Brazil’s tourism industry, supplying the large Latin American nation with millions of eager tourists annually. As a festival that has been present for more than a century, Carnival has undergone numerous changes from its early years as an informal dance in the remote parts of colonial Brazil, to the current phenomena. Brazil’s economical welfare depends on tourism among other industries as has been demonstrated.
However, these important festivities come at a dear price. Carnival has been associated with sexual slavery, as abducted foreigners are forced into this heinous industry affecting the image of the country. Rape and murder are more crimes that occur during the 4 days that Brazil closes its normal operations, as well as the normal vices associated with such gatherings; muggings, robbery, stampedes, dumping, indecency and looting. Pollution, overpopulation, and congestion present more problems for the local authorities.
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Karoff, B. (1989). South American Cooking, Foods & Feasts form the New World. Berkeley, California: Aris Books
Selby, N. (1998). Lonely Planet, Brazil. Hawthorn, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications
“Carnival Time in Brazil: Busiest Tourist Season.” The Epoch Times 1.1 (2013): 1. http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/s/business/. Web. 2 Nov. 2013.
B, Nlemar. “whenthenextdaycomes.” whenthenextdaycomes. Version 1. wordpress.com, 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 2 Nov. 2013. <http://whenthenextdaycomes.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/case-study-the-carnival-in-rio-de-janiero/>.
Beattie, Peter. The Human Tradition in Modern Brazil Issue 7 of Human tradition around the world. Sao Paulo: Rowman & Littlefield, 0. Print.
Albuquerque, Severino. Tentative Transgressions: Homosexuality, AIDS, and the Theater in Brazil. Pittsburg: Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2004. Print.
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