Innovative Online Market-Access Program Promises New Opportunities to Tourism in Ouro Preto, Brazil

  • WHL Consulting
  • 22 March 2010

WHL Consulting develops web-based tourism tools for Ouro Preto with the support of Estrada Real Institute

Brazil is already gearing up for two major international events: the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. The country’s tourism infrastructure is however not keeping pace, particularly in terms of the use of the Internet to provide useful information and services, especially about locally owned and small travel product.

A panoramic view of Ouro Preto, Brazil, with Itacolomi Peak in the background

A panoramic view of Ouro Preto, Brazil, with Itacolomi Peak in the background

Redressing some of these market concerns by delivering new online market-access opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in tourism – tour operators, hostels or hotels – is an innovative program, called Project:Exposure, sponsored by the Multilateral Investments Fund (MIF), a fund administrated by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The pilot program is slated for launch in the World Heritage Site of Ouro Preto, Brazil, and the surrounding region in March 2010 and will be managed by WHL Consulting, part of the WHL Group. The project has the support of Estrada Real Institute, a Brazilian NGO that works on the sustainable development of Royal Road (Estrada Real) cities, like Ouro Preto, through tourism activities.

Responsible Tourism Development

At a time when a diversified offering of online opportunities is sweeping the globe, in Brazil most tourism e-commerce is limited to airline tickets, mainstream package tours and large hotel chains. Most SMEs are excluded from the market. Their absence is often due to a lack of technical proficiency and financial wherewithal.

In response to this need, Project:Exposure will generate a scalable and replicable model for the development of tourism SMEs for online distribution in Brazil. One outcome – a substantial increase in the bookable online presence of small pousadas and hotels – will help deliver Ouro Preto to a global market as the important tourism destination it is.

Signs in Lavras Novas, a village near Ouro Preto

Signs in Lavras Novas, a village near Ouro Preto, Brazil could soon point to places that can be learned about online through

“Despite the international fame of Ouro Preto, this small town doesn’t have large hotels or a strong online presence,” reinforced Ramon Vargas, one owner of Aliar Turismo Travel Agency, the local Ouro Preto project partner. “It’s virtually impossible to travel unplugged today, so what Project:Exposure offers fits our needs like a glove. It’s a perfect opportunity to increase the online supply of information about Ouro Preto in different languages and with professional text and photos. We then integrate our town’s network of accommodations and services into a global online sales platform too.”

This program, already successfully implemented by WHL Consulting in other parts of the world, will be the first of its kind in South America. The program is then expected to be replicated in several other destinations in Brazil as a vital step in preparing for the World Cup and Olympic Games, as well as the many years that follow.

“We have no doubt that the project will have an important impact in Ouro Preto and later in other Brazilian destinations, since what is proposed is not just the simple creation of an e-commerce channel, but the empowerment of small and medium-sized enterprises for long-term and effective participation in the online market,” said André Franchini, Director of WHL Consulting, Brazil.

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