These may be the dog days of summer in South Florida, but for Brazilian visitors, July is prime time.
It's winter vacation season south of the equator, and despite a slowing economy and a weakening currency in South America's largest country, Brazilians' appetite for South Florida visits hasn't waned.
Everything from glamorous events to woo Brazilians to buy luxury condos to special shopping tours and cultural activities have been timed for July, the height of the Brazilian social season -- in Miami.
Even Miami International Airport unveiled Sem Fronteiras/Without Borders, its new Brazilian art exhibit, this week, and Vogue Brasil plans to bring out a special 66-page Miami issue at the end of the month.
"The Brazilians are coming in herds," said Paulo Bacchi, co-owner of Artefacto, a high-end Brazilian furniture maker with two South Florida stores. He postponed both a designer showcase at his Coral Gables, Fla., store and the champagne launch party for his new location in Aventura, Fla., until this month to take full advantage of the Brazilian influx.
"July is officially vacation-in-Miami month," he joked.
Just listen. There's Brazilian Portuguese in the air -- especially if you're at a location that has anything to do with shopping.
And it's not just the Brazilians who are speaking it. "Brasil, Brasil! Oi, tudo bem? (Hi, everything good?)," yelled Johnny Deen, a salesman at Elegance Perfumes, as he spotted a group of Brazilian teenagers entering Sawgrass Mills mall in Sunrise, Fla.
With a broad sweep of his arms he beckoned them inside the small shop. "I know just enough Portuguese to sell,'' said Deen. Soon a dozen teenagers, all clad in matching T-shirts from their tour group, were wafting perfume strips under each other's noses, sniffing spritzes of perfume -- and buying. There was good reason the sales people were so welcoming. Brazilians now account for about 40 percent of the store's business.
At the nearby Rita Marianni store, leopard-print luggage and sky-high purple heels for $39 were attracting a crowd of young Brazilian shoppers.
Still, if you just looked at the latest economic indicators, you might expect that tourism from Brazil would be running out of steam. Turmoil in Europe as well as slower Chinese demand for Brazil's soybean and iron ore exports are taking a toll. Brazil's currency, the real, has fallen from 1.57 to $1 last July to around 2 to $1 this season -- eroding Brazilians' purchasing power. And most estimates peg economic growth at a mere 2 to 2.5 percent this year.
"That news hasn't arrived in the pockets of the Brazilians who are visiting here,'' said Claudia Menezes, vice president of bus tour operator Pegasus Transportation, which ferries Brazilian shoppers to Florida malls. "In both South Florida and Orlando we are still going with loads and loads of buses and extra buses to carry everything they buy.''
Pegasus organized the bus tour that brought more than 100 teenagers from Belem, Brazil, to Sawgrass Mills for a five-hour shopping spree.
William Talbert III, president and chief executive of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he expected 2012 to be another record year for Brazilian travelers. Last year, more than 634,000 Brazilians visited and spent $1.345 billion, making Brazil Miami-Dade's top international market.
There are several reasons why South Florida continues to be such a magnet for Brazilians:
Most Popular Stories
- European Car Sales up First Time in 20 Months
- Entrepreneurs Chase Social Media
- Schedule packed with talent at the Fox
- Manila's Hollywood Week
- I never set out to be a role model but it's great to be one ; IN THE HOTSEATBetter known by his stage name Wretch 32, Jermaine Sinclair is a 28-year-old rapper from London. In 2011 his debut album Black and White sold over a million copies and scored three top five singles. His latest single Blackout was released this week
- Austin musicians point to a variety of reasons to appreciate McCartney
- Financial Times Twitter, Email Hacked
- Apple's iPhones, iPads Approved for Military Use, Sir Yes Sir!
- SINCE YOU ASKED [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]
- 'Star Trek Into Darkness': The Return of Khan?