Brazil tourism up ahead of 2014 World Cup

JOHANNESBURG, June 15 (Reuters) - Brazil hopes its tourism industry will contribute up to 4.5 percent of its gross domestic product by 2014, the year it hosts the FIFA World Cup, a government minister said on Tuesday.

Tourism Minister Luiz Barretto Filho said the South American country expected considerably more than the around 370,000 visitors in South Africa for the current World Cup.

"We hope to get 4 to 4.5 percent of the GDP (by 2014)," Filho told Reuters in an interview.

Filho was part of a delegation visiting South Africa to promote Brazil ahead of the next World Cup.

The 2014 World Cup was marked for South America under FIFA's rotation system and five times World Cup winner Brazil, which hosted the 1950 tournament, was awarded the event unopposed in 2007.

Latin America's biggest economy expanded 9.0 percent in the first quarter - its fastest pace in at least 14 years - and Filho said the government was planning to create 2.5 million formal jobs in total during 2010, many in the tourism sector.

"At the moment, we have 6 million Brazilians working in the tourism sector. We're expecting a 10 percent increase, per year, until 2014," he said.


However, FIFA has criticised Brazil's preparations for the tournament and last month its general secretary, Jerome Valcke, said he had received a report that warned work was behind schedule at a number of venues.

Brazil Sports Minister Orlando Silva, who was also visiting South Africa, said he was concerned about the pace of his country's preparations.

"I'm always worried, I'm always concerned. There are 12 cities and we need to work faster. But I am confident 2010 will be a turning point. And we'll certainly work faster, quicker in the preparation for the World Cup," he told reporters after touring the exhibition.

Like South Africa, Brazil needs to invest heavily in infrastructure, particularly transport. Silva said the government had an investment programme of around $15 billion to improve infrastructure and restore stadiums.

Like South Africa, Brazil is battling a reputation for high levels of violent crime.

However, Filho said Brazil had extensive plans to tackle crime, from bringing in extra police units to instituting more social programmes.

"The Brazilian situation is quite different to the South African (one). We also have problems in the crime area, but not to the same extent as South Africa," Filho said.

"It is quite easy to organise security for a 30-day period."