TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduran Defense Minister Marlon Pascua shows the weapons authorities seized from 13 alleged narco-traffickers who were arrested by the Navy aboard a vessel in the Caribbean Sea last week. Naval officials also confiscated US$658,000 during the bust. (Honduran Ministry of Defense/AFP)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Taking advantage of their country’s booming economy and strong currency, Brazilian tourists went on a shopping spree abroad last year, spending more than US$20 billion, notably in the United States and France.
Brazil’s central bank said the record foreign spending on jewelry, cosmetics, iPads, clothes, baby carriages and even homes, was up 22 percent over the figure for 2010.
Increased social mobility – an estimated 30 million people have moved into the middle class over the past decade – higher incomes, access to cheaper credit and low unemployment (5.2 percent in November), mean a growing number of Brazilians now travel and splurge abroad.
Their favorite destinations are Miami, New York, Buenos Aires and Paris, according to José Francisco Salles Lopes, a senior official at the tourism ministry.
In 2010, 1.1 million Brazilians traveled to the United States, 870,000 to Argentina and 384,000 to France, with other big contingents heading to Portugal, Italy and Spain.
In the United States, Brazilians were the foreign group that spent the most per capita in 2010, US$5.9 billion or nearly $5,000 per person.
“Brazilians spend all they have,” Salles said. “If they have [US]$5,000, they spend [US]$5,000.”
[AFP, 08/01/2012; Terra.com.br (Brazil), 08/01/2012]