2004 Winner
Winners:
Cabaceiras, Brazil
2005
Publication:
The Public Management and Citizenship Programme in Brazil
Sponsored By:
The Public Management and Citizenship Programme in Brazil
Jurisdiction:
Brazil

More information in Portuguese about this award-winning program.

The town of Cabaceiras (PB) has been using its title of "Brazilian city with least rainfall" to its advantage. In the midst of the lajedo, a rock-strewn landscape under the scalding Northeastern sun, a number of tourists arrive full of curiosity. There are many attractions. In the rural areas, archeological sites among the rocks make the region one of the Country's most important study areas. The town, dotted with houses dating from the beginning of the last century, offers museums and a festival. The image of the Paraiban Cariri, as well as of its population, is changing.

The investment in tourism began with a landowner whose farm has a unique geological formation: upon a granite plateau are around 70 matacoes (loose rocks sculpted by the wind) of up to 12 meters in height. There are pre-historic hand paintings and marks from more recent days: stone walls which close off the wind tunnels, said to have been a resting place for the cangaceiro bandits.

The Cabaceiras rocks were exploited for granite extraction without regard for the environment, until the tourist potential was pointed out to the landowners. Also, Cabaceiras achieved national acclaim as the setting for six film productions. Taking advantage of these opportunities, the City Hall created the Municipal Tourism Program, which seeks to develop the tourist potential to generate jobs and income. The municipal government recovered traditional popular events, such as the June Festivities (festas juninas), and created others such as the Cultural Week and the Feast of the King Goat (Festa do Bode Rei), as well as setting up the Historical and Cultural Museum of the Paraiban Cariri. Even the fact that Cabaceiras is known for its small rainfall is exploited for tourism.

During the Feast of the King Goat, the "royal entourage", made up by the King Goat, Queen, Prince and Princess, parades throughout the town. The goat is crowned as king of the Cariri animals due to its importance in the regional economy and its capacity for withstanding drought (the town has the third largest flock in the state of Paraiba). The feast is part of a great festival of livestock, products, services and culture linked to goat and sheep farming, attracting tourists from Paraiba, other states and even abroad. To understand the importance of this event, it is enough to mention that the town, with less than five thousand inhabitants, receives 40 thousand visitors in a week.

Public authorities created craftwork commerce points and, together with Sebrae, are setting up a center for professional qualification of leather artisans. Regional artists receive financial incentive to produce a variety of work. The government of Cabaceiras set up partnerships for courses, lectures and training programs, to develop the entrepreneurial capacity of those involved with tourism activities, as well as promote awareness in the local community. The School Tourism Program introduces the subject to local students, working on aspects such as local history, culture and environment.

Since 2001, the municipality has received more foreign visitors than the state capital. The Pai Mateus Lajedo is the main attraction for this tourist influx, bringing awareness that this region needs a preservation program. Currently the municipality is seeking to integrate the Lajedo to an Area of Environmental Protection (APA). Investment in tourism at this location has brought about a change in behavior in relation to natural resources, with the abandonment of predatory exploitation.

The businesses created through tourism, such as hotels, bars, restaurants and craft stores, generate over 100 direct and around 400 indirect jobs. Specific events employ over 300 people in temporary occupation. Tourism has brought a flood of jobs in the town known for its lack of rain.