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Brazil Resumes National Park Privatization

04 Dec 2021 By travelpulse

Brazil Resumes National Park Privatization

Brazil’s government has resumed the privatization of its national park operations in regions with “enormous” potential for tourism activity, but lacking in visitor infrastructure, officials at Embratur, Brazil’s tourism promotion agency said this week.

Brazil is targeting national parks and forests in the country’s vast northeast, including Lençóis Maranhenses in the state of Maranhão and Jericoacoara in Ceará, for private concessionaire status under Brazilian law.

Both areas feature dunes and lakes offering “immense natural beauty,” said Embratur officials in a statement. The agency has also identified the Canela National Forest in Rio Grande do Sul as a target for privatization.

Brazil’s concession program for management of the nation’s national parks originated the 1990s but was expanded in 2019, with bidding formats “streamlined,” said Embratur officials. The program was suspended in 2020 followig the pandemic outbreak.

Concession operators are required to provide visitor support services including ticket sales, admission control, parking, food and beverage services, retail operations, sports activities and environmental protection services. Under the Brazilian program, public authorities retain park ownership and management while “environmental rules continue to apply in their entirety.”

Concessionaires are also responsible for park revitalization, modernization, operation, and maintenance. “With this, environmental agencies can focus on their primary mission, which is to protect the environment,” said officials.

Brazil contains 334 “conservation units” including national parks and forests, national monuments, biological and wildlife reserves, environmentally protected areas, extractive reserves and areas of “relevant ecological interest” throughout its 26 states, according to a Brazilian Ministry of Tourism study. The areas encompass nine percent of the country’s territory and two percent of its coastal marine biome.

Nineteen of the areas are “in the process” transferring to operation by granted private concessioners, under the supervision of Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation. Brazil’s national parks hosted 15 million visitors in 2019.

Embratur officials identified Iguaçu National Park, which has operated under a concessionaire since 1999, as a model for other areas targeted for privatization. Iguaçu hosts “the most significant number of visitors in the country and [is] a catalyst for excellent development” of Brazilian tourism and related employment, said officials.

"We want to repeat the success of Iguaçu in other parks across the country,” said Carlos Brito, Embratur’s president. “This will allow us to explore tourism sustainably as visitors seek out nature and adventure destinations in Brazil; and in parallel to achieve the same development around these places, generating jobs and income for the inhabitants around the parks.”

Auctions were completed earlier this year for national park concessions at the National Parks of Aparados da Serra and Serra Geral and southern Brazil’s Canela and São Francisco de Paula national forests.

Iguaçu National Park is Brazil’s second largest and attracts two million visitors annually, said Embratur officials. Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro, where the Christ the Redeemer statue is located, leads Brazil with 2.9 million annual visitors. Both parks operate within the concession program.

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