Brazil's first luxury train, the Great Brazil Express (like this, in English), starts operation April 23, in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná. The stretch, covering a distance of approximately 500 kilometers (310 miles), will link Ponta Grossa, 156 kilometers (97 miles) away from capital Curitiba, to Cascavel, in the West of the state.
"We are now taking an important step for the luxury tourism sector in Brazil," stated Brazil's tourism minister Marta Suplicy. She was present at the ceremony inaugurating the line, on Friday (15), in the city of Morretes, on the coast of the state.
"While the global annual rate of growth of tourism is 6.2% a year, in the luxury tourism sector, this level is over 10%," said the minister.
"Luxury tourism is a niche that brings many resources to the country. A family in this profile that spends 13 days in Brazil may spend up to US$ 50,000," she explained. "It is a very sophisticated train. And this is a very important step for luxury tourism in Paraná."
Luxury trains constitute a very important tourist market niche in Europe and the United States. Apart from Ponta Grossa and Cascavel, the first line of this train should cross cities like Castro, Guarapuava, Irati and Tibagi.
Depending on the season, the package may have a basic cost of US$ 3,500.00. The price includes housing, meals, outings and all means of transport used, including aircraft (except for international flights), buses and trains, bilingual guides and fees.
The average speed of the composition, with a capacity for 22 passengers, will be 40 km/h (26 miles/h) . The trip between the cities of Curitiba and Morretes should be made on the traditional Litorina train.
Tourists will have at their disposal the official package, lasting eight or ten days, bought abroad. There should, however, be other possibilities adequate to national and international operators. There are routes that do not cross Rio or Curitiba, for example.
The estimate is that the Great Brazil Express should transport at least 2,100 foreign tourists each year. Apart from the comfort of leather seats, carpets, televisions, background music and a bar, passengers should get to know stretches that cut Brazil pine forests and soy plantations, among other landscapes of Paraná.
According to Adonai Aires de Arruda, chairman of Serra Verde Express, one of the partners in the enterprise, investment totaled 1 million Brazilian reais (US$ 575,000) in the adaptation and decoration of the railway cars. The other two partners in the project are HigiServ and Transnico International Group, from Belgium, which operates in the area of railway tourism in Europe.
Marta Suplicy recalled that the Ministry of Tourism invested 84.5 million reais (US$ 48.6 million) in Paraná in 2007. Of the total, 20 million reais (US$ 11.5 million) were turned to the cities that are part of the luxury train route.
During the inauguration of the Great Brazil Express, the minister announced investment of 9.1 million reais in the expansion and improvement of tourist infrastructure in Morretes. Among the works forecasted is the construction of bicycle lanes and a bypass to alleviate the traffic in the central region of the city.
Great Brazil Express site: http://www.greatbrazilexpress.com/
Omar Nasser works for the Federation of Industries of the State of Paraná.
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