Is Natal set to be new tourist hotspot?
By Steve Binge

Is Natal set to be new tourist hotspot?

There could be a new hot location in Brazil for the holiday let market, after it was announced Natal's tourist infrastructure will receive a boost. Secretary of state for tourism in Rio Grande do Norte, Renato Fernandes, outlined plans to upgrade the area, which is already popular for it beaches. Marinas, golfing ranges and five and six star hotels will be added under the new proposals. The possibility of a theme park is also being discussed.

It is hoped such developments will make Natal even more attractive to holiday makers and Brazilian property investors considering expanding their portfolio in the area will want to act swiftly. In particular, it is expected the site will become a hub for water sports tourism, to capitalise on its 400km of coastline and year-round sea temperatures of 26 degrees C.

Local estate agent has shown particular interest in this part of the proposal, highlighting the small town of Sao Miguel do Gostoso as ripe for development as the Brazilian centre for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The world champions for both sports currently live in the area, indicating its potential.

While it is unclear whether Sao Miguel do Gostoso will be the site of new development, Mr Fernandes has promised that the 98 hectares of the historical centre of Natal will be restored into a pedestrianised open air culture attraction. Ecological tourism will also feature in the plans, with charities already working to protect sea turtles in Sibauma, Tibau do Sul and Pipa.

"Everyone has something to gain from tourism from the poorest to the richest," Mr Fernandes said. "I don’t think there is anything quite like tourism that can benefit the whole society...  I think tourism is going to transform this state." 

Getting to Natal will also be easier by March or April 2014, when the new Sao Goncalo do Amarante Airport is opened. Already the region is the closest part of Brazil to Europe, with under seven hours flying time to Lisbon.
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