RIO DE JANEIRO, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Brazil received more than 5.4 million international visitors in 2011, up 5.3 percent from 2010, the Tourism Ministry announced Friday.
The number of visitors from other South American nations rose from 2.384 million in 2010 to 2.628 million in 2011, with Argentinean visitors remaining in the lead,totaling 1.593 million last year, up 13.9 percent from 2010.
Chinese and Russian tourists to Brazil jumped by 47.9 percent and 40.9 percent respectively in 2011, while the number of tourists from India rose 14.3 percent and that from South Africa climbed 6.8 percent.
"The figures show that intensifying tourism promotion in neighboring countries was the right thing to do," said Flavio Dino, president of Brazil's state-run tourism promotion agency Embratur.
The number of European tourists to Brazil rose slightly to 1.62 million, up 0.4 percent from 2010. Brazilian authorities stressed the increase was very positive given the severe economic crisis facing European countries.
"Not losing tourists is very good in a very unfavorable scenario," said Tourism Minister Gastao Vieira.
Despite last year's record-high figures, the number of foreign tourists to Brazil has remained relatively steady in the past decade at around 5 million.
Brazil is expected to receive more tourists in the next few years, as it will be hosting the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Brazil hopes to be one of the world's top 5 tourist destinations by 2022, Vieira has said recently.
To accomplish the goal, it would need to surpass Italy, currently in the 5th place with 43 million tourists in 2010. In other words, Brazil would have to increase its international tourism arrivals by eight fold.