Brazil eases visa rules ahead of Rio Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Brazil is lifting visa requirements for tourists from Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States starting Wednesday (June 1) to encourage travel to the Rio Olympics, the government said.

The Tourism Ministry said on Tuesday (May 31) that it was throwing the doors open to tourists from the four countries because they are already a good market, have strong interest in the Olympics and pose a low security risk.

"These tourists will boost the country's economy by spending in hotels, restaurants, car hire, travel agencies and many other sectors," Tourism Minister Henrique Eduardo Alves said in a statement.

"In this period, our attractions will be on global view. If we do our part, many of these tourists will return after the Olympics bringing friends and relatives," he said.

The Olympics, the first to be held in South America, start on Aug 5.