RIO DE JANEIRO — Fear of terrorism in Europe and the Mediterranean area is diverting U.S. and Canadian tour groups to safer playgrounds in Latin America, tourist agents and hotel managers here say.
Dan Edson, marketing director of Rio's Intercontinental Hotel, said that in just two hours of a single day last week, "I was on the phone with tour directors in St. Louis, Dayton, Ohio, Toronto and Atlanta, all asking for space for groups that had been planning to go to Europe. They are asking for 20 to 200 rooms. It is lucky that this is our off-season."
The climate of fear is also having a long-term impact. Loriberto Hedler, director of the Escobar Travel Agency, one of Brazil's largest, said a Toronto agency booked reservations in Rio next February for 135 beneficiaries of a company's incentive tour that had been headed for Rome.
Hedler said Mutual of Omaha, the life insurance company, has asked for bids on tours to Brazil for its prize-winning employees and salesmen. Mutual has always preferred European travel, he said.
Brazil's official tourist bureau registered 204,000 North American visitors last year.