When marketing Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's national tourism agency typically focuses on the city's world-class beaches, samba-filled music scene and caipirinha-fueled parties. Violent crime is rarely listed among the attractions.
But in an embarrassing social media snafu this week, the Brazilian Tourist Board (Embratur) accidentally shared a critical Instagram post from a tourist who did not enjoy her stay in the so-called "Cidade Maravilhosa," or Marvellous City.
"I just spent 3 days in Rio with my family, and in those 3 days my family and I were robbed and my 9-year-old sister witnessed a violent robbery," Instagram user "withlai" wrote in an Instagram Stories post. "I can't recommend a visit to a city where I felt afraid of even leaving the apartment."
Embratur deleted the shared post on Wednesday. It said in a subsequent statement that "sharing (the post) was a mistake," adding that it had worked hard to promote a nationwide fall in crime in 2019.
Safety concerns along with inconvenient flights, poor infrastructure and high costs have long held back Brazil's tourism industry, which lags its South American neighbours.
As news of the mistake went viral, withlai, who identified herself as a Brazilian living in Europe, said in another Instagram post that she hoped "the person (at Embratur) doesn't get in trouble, we all make mistakes."
And she defended her original post.
"If I don't feel safe or comfortable somewhere, I'll share it," she said.