By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new US policy barring anyone who has been to Brazil within 14 days from entering the US could prove costly to South Florida’s economy.

More than one million Brazilian tourists visit Florida on an annual basis. In 2016, Brazilian tourists spent $11.6 billion nationwide. A good portion of that in Orlando and Miami.

Statistics show that Brazilian tourists stay longer and spend an average of $1,000 per day per person.

CBS4’s Hank Tester spoke to Florida International Dr. Jerry Harr, who is an author and expert on Latin American economies.

“We have a $21 billion trade relationship that is merchandise only. Remember only merchandise trade, so we are going to be slammed by the decline in the area of tourism, real estate, higher education, law, accounting, engineering services,” Haar adds.

The South American nation has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases after the US.

The current travel ban excludes US citizens and green-card holders and their spouses. Brazil has nearly 375,000 confirmed cases.

“Brazil has had 310,000 cases of coronavirus. It is logical to put the brakes on this for the time being,” said Harr.

The travel ban exempts all commerce and trade.

“The infrastructure for public health has never been good anyway and you have the president (Jair Bolsonaro) running around saying this is just a little flu and not wearing a mask in public,” said Haar.

“Delusional, irresponsible. He is making matters worse. An administration in Brazil that has lost its way. Never had the ability to mobilize,” he adds.

Three-hundred thousand Brazilians live in Florida. Many cut off from relatives due to coronavirus.

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