//Norwegian to launch Gatwick to Rio flight

Norwegian to launch Gatwick to Rio flight

Brazilian tourist board says new flight routes will open up region to European travellers. By Anthony Pearce. 

Norwegian will launch a new route from London Gatwick to Rio De Janeiro in the new year, the Brazil tourist board has said.

There have been strong rumours that the carrier, which has pioneered low-cost long-haul flights from Europe to South America, will begin flying to the Brazilian city in January, after dropping its Singapore route.

The Brazilian Institute of Tourism (Embratur) said that 98 more flight routes would connect the South American country between October 2018 and April 2019, including Norwegian. It added that it was discussing more direct flights with other European airlines, including Air Europa and Air France KLM.

Norwegian has been contacted for comment, but has previously stated that it will “continually evaluate our global network to ensure that we operate routes in response to customer demand.”

The country welcomed a record number of British tourists during the World Cup in 2014, according to Embratur’s president,Tete Bezerra. She said that 217,000 Bris visited during the competition; in 2017, 119,000 Britons visited, an increase on 2016.

The country is focusing its attention on eco-tourism, and the tourist board said it was hoping to attract tourists looking to explore Brazil’s many natural wonders in a sustainable manner.

Bezerra told ABTA Magazine “significant changes” had been made to prepare Brazil for an increase in visitor numbers. Brazil welcomed 6.6 million visitors in 2017 – more than the 6.5 million of 2016, when the Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro.

Speaking about the recent presidential elections, Bezerra said the country wasn’t expecting a downturn in tourism following the victory of the far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro.

“We expect that the new president will see that tourism is a very important economic activity for Brazil, that it generates a great deal of income for the country. For the Brazilian people it generates employment and opportunity,” she said.

Bolsonaro has been condemned by human rights groups after describing himself as a ‘proud homophobe’. However, Bezerra argued that the country will continue to welcome LGBT people, and that the chamber of commerce will promote the country as an LGBT-friendly destination.