“We do track currency fluctuations, but despite the weaker real, the value proposition of getting on a plane and coming to Miami is still a much, much better deal than buying in their own backyard,’’ said Aedo.
After a series of boom years, the Brazilian economy grew just .9 percent last year, and this year the Central Bank is predicting economic growth of 2.7 percent — a figure private economists find optimistic. More worrisome is the inflation forecast: 6 percent.
“It’s true there is an economic slowdown, but it’s all in relative terms,’’ Aedo said.
Five years ago, he said, there were just 460,000 Brazilian visitors. Last year, a record 690,000 Brazilians visited — 12 percent more than the year before.
“We don’t expect double-digit growth every year, but we still expect growth. We anticipate we’ll have quite a significant increase in Brazilians,’’ Aedo said. “There are still overwhelming positive factors that are drawing them in.’’
• No more visa logjam. It used to take more than three months to get a visa interview appointment at a U.S. consulate in Brazil for a visit to the United States. But in April 2012, the U.S. announced a $40 million program to double consular staff, streamline visa processing and improve its consular facilities. Recently, the wait time for interviews was down to two days in São Paulo, one day in Brasilia and 14 days in Rio de Janeiro. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand for travel to the United States,’’ said Aedo. “Now the pipeline has opened up dramatically.’’
• Millions of Brazilians have moved into the middleclass in recent years. Members of the new middle class have had “coming to the United States and Miami on vacation at the top of their list for a long time,’’ Aedo said.
• Miami’s growing reputation as a luxury destination. “The consolidation of wealth continues, not just in Brazil but across the world,’’ Aedo said. “Whether it’s Gucci bags or premium destinations like Miami, this trend toward luxury travel and luxury brands continues.’’
It’s the high-income Brazilians who have Miami retailers and real estate brokers salivating. To attract them, Bacchi added a second July soiree, a partnership with Neiman Marcus Coral Gables at his Aventura showroom. More than 1,000 guests sipped champagne as models walked a runway to display the upscale retailer’s pre-fall collections.
Neiman Marcus also took part in a party thrown by Vogue Brasil to promote the magazine’s second annual Portuguese-language Miami issue. At the events, Neiman Marcus handed out cards that could be brought into the store for shopping incentives and the chance to win a shopping spree. “We’re very focused on getting Brazilians into our store,’’ said Katharine Rubino, a Neiman Marcus public relations manager. “July is the peak, but we’ve really started to see tourism year-round.”
Models also rocked Brazilian bikinis during Swim Week, and other luxury retailers and condominium developers held parties this month to showcase their offerings to the Brazilians.