RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil will again require visas for tourists from the United States, Australia, Canada and Japan starting Oct. 1, the Foreign Ministry said.

President Jair Bolsonaro waived visa requirements in 2019 in an attempt to boost the tourism industry, but these four countries continue to require visas for Brazilians.

The previous decision was “a break from the pattern of Brazilian immigration policy, which was historically based on the principles of reciprocity and equal treatment,” the ministry said in a statement released late Monday.

“Brazil does not offer unilateral, non-reciprocal visitor visa waivers to other countries,” the ministry said, noting that the government is willing to negotiate visa waiver agreements based on reciprocity. .

Bolsonaro criticized the decision last week when broadcaster G1 reported on the plans. “Another measure revoked by Lula. Less stimulus for the hotel sector,” the former president wrote on Twitter.

Unilateral decisions like Bolsonaro’s are unusual in diplomacy, said Leonardo Paz, a political scientist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university and think tank. The dismissal is part of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s ambition to strengthen the country’s foreign policy, an area neglected by Bolsonaro, according to Paz.

Despite everything, representatives of the tourism sector criticized the measure.

The general manager of one of Rio de Janeiro’s main tourist attractions, the Sugar Loaf cable car, criticized the decision. Sandro Fernandes told Folhapress ahead of the official announcement that the decision would be “a setback”.

“Instead of closing the door to four nationalities, we should talk about the next four which will be visa-free. And then four more. This should be the government’s agenda,” Fernandes said.

Before the pandemic, Brazil welcomed 6.4 million tourists in 2019, far fewer than Mexico’s 45 million and Argentina’s 7.4 million, according to the World Tourism Organization.

Data from the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism indicates that arrivals of Americans, Australians, Canadians and Japanese declined between 2019 and 2021, although this is likely largely due to the pandemic.

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