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The Woz on World Tourism Day at ABAV Expo in Rio de Janeiro

Meet Your Heroes, they may just be awesome, the Woz was on World Tourism Day 2023. This was a highlight of the trip to Brazil. ITTN’s Shane Cullen reports.

World Tourism Day was celebrated at the opening of the ABAV Expo in Rio de Janeiro. ITTN’s Shane Cullen was there for the 2-day conference in South America. He travelled with a group of journalists from across Europe, in conjunction with TAP Air Portugal, to discover what Brazil has to offer travellers.


The 50th edition of ABAV Expo, the largest tourism event in Latin America, is in Riocentro. ABA Expo covers cultural, gastronomic, handicrafts, training, lectures and panels on various themes. This fair has more than 2,000 exhibiting brands and the estimated audience is 36,000 people. 

This is a reflection of the tourism industry in the country. Embratur (the Brazilian Agency for International Tourism Promotion) published figures detailing that the number of international travellers between January and August of this year was higher (111%) compared with the same period last year. The full-year forecast is expected to exceed targets by c.30%.

Co-Founder of Apple, Mr. Steve Wozniack

The opening ceremony has entrepreneur, philanthropist and Silicon Valley pioneer – the co-founder of Apple, the legendary Mr. Steve Wozniack. To be fair, I would have trekked through the Amazon rainforest to see him in person (thankfully, TAP Air got me here in comfort!).

The Woz explains travel should be “easy and human”. Technology facilitates this ease of travel. It enables the sharing of experiences from across the world. It incentivises the exploration of new countries, cultures, and cuisines. There is a multitude of reasons to travel, to escape the daily grind, connect with friends and family, experience something new or reconnect with somewhere or someone. Overwhelmingly, there is an urge for that authentic experience. Technology can help map new routes and itineraries to match that ideal destination with the client’s ideals. Having travelled relatively extensively, there is this trend of a homogenised experience – that no matter where you step off your plane, you are greeted with the same restaurant chains, retail offerings, a standardised experience (sunset cruise, outback safari…) and these are fantastic the first time and probably the second and third too, however, that search for something different still drives passionate travellers. 

In my earlier article on Brazil, I used the word authentic and it is very apt. Here, in Brazil, it feels like another world. It feels like another culture, style, energy and experience. It feels like an unknown adventure. 

Brazil Welcomes Tourists with Open Arms

With wonderful enthusiasm, our band of travellers is greeted with an affable message “Please sell Brazil. We need you, We need your business, and we have a lot of things to do here that are really nice!” The message for European journalists continues, “We want to bring more of you to do business in Brazil, we’ve come a long way. We have a lot to offer.”

During our whistle-stop tour of the ABAV Expo, we had the opportunity to interview the Minister for Tourism, Celso Sabino. He shared that the country is expecting international visitors of c.6 million in 2023 which is broadly in line with pre-covid figures.

“Brazil represents a great market with great expectations for investors and for tourists around the globe” he explains.

The country is focused on promoting development while also being mindful of protecting Brazil, protecting their forests, and rivers – in this context, he explains how important eco-tourism and sustainability are for the country.

The international community sees Brazil as a leader in South America and in the Caribbean between Caribbean countries. The Minister believes that this leadership will help shape the vision of Brazil abroad. This approach seeks to best position the country to promote inward tourism in Brazil, particularly in the context of all that the vast country has to offer.

Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen has been managing director of a media production studio for nearly 20 years working on projects for a global clientele. He has worked in the travel industry for over a decade and as a travel journalist since 2015. He is passionate about travel, film & photography. He also has a keen interest in emerging technology.

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