Marco Lomanto: transforming Brazil through a new vision of tourism

Ana B. Remos

Passionate about his homeland, Marco Lomanto is determined to transform the Brazil into a hub for ecotourism, and use the industry to drive social and economic recovery. Learn how he achieved this impressive feat, along with your favorite place in Brazil.

Marco Lomanto has focused his efforts on attracting tourism, promoting Brazil internationally, and growing an industry that affects 52 sectors of the country’s economy. Nevertheless, this native Brazilian—born in Bahia—has transformed his difficult task into a genuine labor of love. Lomanto, who was Director of Projects and Strategic Alliances of the Presidency of Embratur (The Official Tourism Entity of Brazil) until the beginning of 2019, continues to do tourism consulting for the Brazilian government.

Marco Lomanto.

Lomanto’s passion and pride for his homeland are authentic and evident when you meet him. Political and social crises have not managed to cloud his faith in the country or his goal to show it off to the rest of the world. “I was born in a land blessed with the most beautiful wildlife and landscapes on the planet, as writers and poets from across the globe have often described. We have idyllic beaches, beautiful wetlands in Mato Grosso, and the most modern capital in the world, Brasilia—considered an open-air museum and repository of the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer. Plus, we have the jungle with its unique flora and fauna. And our people! The most beautiful gift of all, ”he tells, before continuing. “But few know the real treasure that is our natural environment. My objective is to make Brazil the global reference for ecotourism.”

Lomanto lives in Brasilia, in a beautiful apartment with lavender-colored walls, large white leather sofas, and crystal and steel decorative accents. He keeps a garden of tropical plants in his living room (which he speaks to daily), and of course, a tree of happiness and the sword of Saint George, two symbols frequently found on the entryways of Brazilian homes to ensure protection and good fortune. He has a second home in Salvador, and in the interior of the state of Bahia, a cacao farm dotted with livestock and surrounded by blindingly green forests and jacaranda trees.

Marco Lomanto
— 1. Marco Lomanto’s baptism during a Midnight Mass on Dec. 24th, 1963 in the chapel at the Palace of Acclamation. The Palace was the official residence of Bahia’s governor, at that time his father. Pictured here: his godmother Luiza Menezes de Andrade and his godfather and older brother Leur Antonio de Britto Lomanto.  //  — 2. Famous photo of the Lomanto family gathered at the Ondina Palace, restored by Marco Lomanto’s mother, Hildete Lomanto. This photo was the last Christmas card sent by governor Lomanto Jr. to Bahia citizens on Dec. 1967 as a farewell before closing out his term.  //  — 3. Lomanto Jr., Marco’s father and former Gorvernor of Bahia, receiving Senator Robert (Bob) Kennedy in the Palace of Ondina during an official visit to Bahia, Brazil. Kennedy and his wife were the first guests in the palace.  //  — 4. Marco Antonio and his brother, Marco Tadeu, with their father, Antonio Lomanto, governor of Bahia, seen here on the Ondina Palace veranda; the palace is the official summer residence of Bahia governors.  //  — 5. Marco’s father and governor of Bahia at the time, Lomanto Jr., seen here in the White House with then-U.S. president John F. Kennedy.

The Brazilian executive is a devoted family man, describing them as his best teachers and his source of inspiration and unconditional love. Hildete de Britto Lomanto is his mother, and his father, Antonio Lomanto Jr., was the most influential person in his life. The late Lomanto was a revered politician: he was governor of the state of Bahia and also a Brazilian senator. His death in 2015 left behind five children: Antonio, Leur (who’s also served seven terms as a senator), Lilian, Tadeu, and Marco.

At 16, Lomanto’s parents sent him to the United States as a high school exchange student. He landed in Scottsville, Michigan, where he lived with the Stieltras, a family he describes as “wonderful,” and with whom he still remains in touch. He made great friends in the US, but more importantly, the experience helped him “spread his wings.”

Marco Lomanto
— 1. During a one-on-one session in April 2017 in the blue hall of the Federal Senate in Brasilia, a posthumous homage was held for Lomanto Jr. for his 49 years of public life. Left-to-right: Marco Antonio, Lilian Maria, Antonio Lomanto Neto (older brother), Leur Antonio (his godfather, former Deputy Federal of the State of Bahia) and Marcos Tadeu.  //  — 2. Marco Antonio Lomanto and Brazilian model, promoter and actor Jorge Pontualo, one of his dearest childhood friends.  //  — 3. Promoting Rio de Janeiro & Brazil as host of the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio. Celebrating with Tom and Vinicius, mascots of the RIO 2016 games.  //  — 4. Marco with a traditional Bahian woman. The joy, hospitality and infectious smiles in Bahia are the best reflection of the Brazilian soul and the perfect invitation to visit this charismatic country.  //  — 5. With his beloved friend Carlinhos Brown, a famous Brazilian artist who is also from Bahia, and a Bahian woman as a symbol of the love they share for the city, called “the land of happiness.”  //  — 6. With David Barione (ex-vice president of TAM Airlines, today LATAM Airlines; former president of APEXBrasil; and now head of São Paulo Turismo), and his dear friend and fellow Bahian Daniela Mercury (singer and UNESCO Ambassador for children) at a promotional event for Brazil in Europe.

After his graduation in 1987, he decided to continue his studies in Paris at La Sorbonne, where he majored in Political Science and Government Relations. While pursuing his degree, Lomanto interned with an organization that negotiated to promote Brazilian interests. It was at this internship he realized the importance of representing one’s country with love and conviction if you want to successfully promote it. More importantly, he discovered his greatest passion: tourism. Lomanto decided to stay five extra years in Paris to study communications, marketing, and international relations, before ultimately returning home for good.

“Living abroad was a wonderful experience that forever changed me,” he explains. “Living in the midst of other cultures opened my horizons and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I embraced the differences, and understood how globalization is radically impacting our planet.” He goes on to confess, “I always knew I would come back to Brazil. It’s my home. My family is here, my friends, my properties, and my history. Rescuing my country is my mission.” “When I’m not in Brazil, I miss my family, the climate, afternoons in the Bahia Yacht Club, yachting outings along Bahia Todos os Santos and the neighboring islands with crystal clear waters and dreamy beaches. Oh! And that contagious joy and Brazilian hospitality!”
Marco Lomanto

Lomanto recalls with pride the marshlands Mato Grosso, and places like Bonito, located in the Brazilian plateau, where one can dive in caves teeming with fish and surrounded by the most intensely colored flowers you can imagine. However, his favorite place in Brazil is Trancoso, “the birthplace of the nation,” he clarifies. This is the exact spot on the Costa de Descubrimiento (Discovery Coast), where the explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral set foot for the first time in Brazil on April 21, 1583, claiming the land for the Portuguese Crown. “Trancoso is a dream of a place. Its energy is contagious. It’s my favorite place to spend New Year’s Eve and watch the dawn emerge over my homeland on New Year’s Day.”

Lomanto injects his love and passion for his homeland into his work.“Ending social inequality while teaching the world the essence and treasures that define Brazil is a dream that will become reality. A dream in isolation is always a dream, but a dream dreamt by all always becomes a reality.”  ■

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