As Head of Projects and Partnerships at Embratur (the Brazilian Institute of Tourism), Marco Lomanto is in charge of 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’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 azureazure.com, 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.
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.”
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!”
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 at Embratur, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The organization is taking a sharp tack and shifting its focus entirely to the digital sphere. Until now, Embratur has operated as a traditional federal entity but hopes to look more like a modern marketing agency with a top of the line technology, strong business partnerships, and moreover, a goal of leaving a positive impact on the economy by creating opportunities in tourism for lower-income areas and communities. “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.” ■