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In July, Brazilian tourists spent $2.2 billion abroad; 85% more Brazilians staying in Argentine hotels.

What do you get when you combine a surging economy, a strong national currency and a month full of vacations? If you’re Brazil, you get the highest level of spending abroad recorded in history. According to Diario do Nordeste, Brazilian tourists packed over US$2.2 billion in their suitcases and spent it on hotels, restaurants and shopping abroad.

The Brazilian Central Bank says the combination of economic growth and a strong real is the catalyst for the record number of Brazilians taking holidays abroad. Brazil’s external account deficit reached US$28.9 billion in the first seven months of 2011, and tourism spending on” iPads, restaurants in Buenos Aires and Paris hotels” accounts for 48% of that amount.

“Travel is tied closely to economic growth. If the economy is doing well, travel increases,” said Central Bank economist Tulio Maciel. Hotels, shops and restaurants in Argentina and Uruguay continue to benefit from the influx of Brazilian tourists. According to a new report from the Association of Hotels and Tourism (AHT), the number of Brazilians staying in Argentine hotels rose 85% last year.

Argentina and Uruguay’s proximity and affordability are magnets for Brazilian tourists while the U.S. continues to lose market share due to Washington bureaucracy and inefficiency. Major hotel groups like Marriott and Starwood are lobbying DC to expedite the 100-day wait time for Brazilians seeking U.S. tourist visas, while major airlines say the average 21-minute wait time for Brazilians at Customs is another U.S. travel deterrent. (Full Story in Portuguese)

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