Even though China’s national team did not manage to make it into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, many Chinese travelers did. Guilherme Bailey, the official in charge of the 2014 FIFA World Cup affairs at the Brazilian embassy in Beijing, told Chinese news source Xinhua that around 5,000 Chinese nationals are visiting Brazil during the games for tourism and business purposes.
Bailey said that he was surprised by the World Cup’s popularity in China and the level of interest Chinese fans showed toward soccer. As a result, the Brazilian embassy decided to expedite the visa issuing process for World Cup fans in China, allowing fans with the necessary documents and proof of World Cup tickets to get their travel visas in as little as two days. He hopes that this international event will boost tourism not only to Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo, but also to other Brazilian cities, such as Manaus, Cuiabá, Porto Alegre, the beautiful beaches of El Salvador, and Brazil’s northeast.
A total of 65,000 Chinese nationals visited Brazil in 2012, according to Bailey, and he expects that number will go up to over 100,000 annually in the years following this recent World Cup, both for leisure and business. He says that in addition to the World Cup, Brazil has been working hard to host events to attract visitors into the country. These include events such as the sixth BRICS summit in July, a grouping of major emerging countries including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, held in the city of Fortaleza. Bailey says that the summit should improve bilateral economic and trade cooperation between China and Brazil.
The 2014 World Cup has also been a great investment opportunity for Chinese enterprises, and according to Bailey, many companies in China’s energy, electronics, infrastructure, security industries, and more are sponsors or involved with the championships. Bailey hopes that bilateral trade volume will reach the $1 billion mark following this World Cup.
Beyond just business ties, Bailey sees potential for China in the international soccer scene and believes that the sport can serve as a point for cultural exchange. China has many training centers and stadiums, and many young Chinese nationals are traveling to Brazil to learn to play soccer. He says that China could consider sending soccer coaches to Brazil to learn about coaching as well. This would create a stable of homegrown coaches, in addition to the many foreign soccer coaches China has been hiring to raise its playing standards. Bailey believes that China will rapidly rise through soccer rankings in the future.