In a year in which Japan and Venice have implemented new taxes for tourists, Brazil just made it cheaper for U.S. citizens to visit. Starting June 17, Brazil’s government is waiving visa requirements for both business travelers and tourists from the United States, as well as Canada, Australia, and Japan for visits of up to 90 days.
Previously, travelers from the United States needed to apply online or at a Brazilian embassy and pay $40 (plus a $4.24 service fee) for a tourist visa. The Brazilian government temporarily waived visa requirements from travelers from the same four countries during the summer of 2016 to encourage foreign travelers to visit around the time of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
In November 2017, Brazil introduced an e-Visa program that cut down visa approval times to about 72 hours and lowered the price of the visa from $160 to $40 for U.S. travelers, according to Travel Weekly. Since then, Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism saw a 44.2 percent increase in visas processed from the United States in April 2018 compared to April 2017.
In the days following the announcement in March, searches for flights to Brazil quickly spiked. According to a survey by Kayak, searches for flights to Brazil from Australia increased 36 percent, followed by a 31 percent increase from United States, 19 percent from Canada, and 4 percent from Japan.
By eliminating all visa requirements for travelers from these countries, Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism hopes to increase the number of annual overseas visitors to 12 million and spending to $18 billion by 2022, Travel Pulse reports. Brazil had over 6 million foreign arrivals in 2018.
But there are also political motives behind the decision, considering that the announcement for the visa waiver fell during Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s first visit to Washington, D.C., in March 2019, to meet with President Trump.
The move to let in travelers from the United States without a visa was done in part to ease relations between the two countries. While Trump said he and Bolsonaro discussed visa requirements in their meeting, according to Bloomberg, Brazilian citizens currently still need to apply for a visa to travel to the United States. However, the U.S. Embassy in Brazil reported that the United States issued more than 640,000 visas to Brazilians in the 2018 fiscal year—a 12 percent increase over 2017.
This article originally appeared online on March 19, 2019; it was updated on June 17, 2019, to include current information.