Depending upon who you talk to, Indonesia has either been swamped by Brazilian surfers this season or there's only been a modest increase over past years.
Whatever the numbers, incremental or astronomical, they can be attributed to a generous holiday package offered by Qatar Airways. Early this year the Middle Eastern carrier launched its second annual Travel Festival featuring cheap flights that got progressively cheaper the more people that were in on the deal.
Of interest were the flights from Sao Paulo to Denpassar. The usual price for return flights is approx. $1,500 US but the Qatar Airways deal started at $709 each for three people and dropped to a scant $487 if you could round up five passageiros.
At less than a third the usual price Brazilian travellers got the group thing going, booked the flights, and subsequently stormed the archipelago. This was confirmed by Qatar Airways who, when asked by Swellnet, said the Denpassar special was "extremely popular". However, they couldn't divulge specific numbers and thus we're left to unreliable reports from the cliff tops at Ulus.
"There's been way more Brazilians here this year," said a Swellnet correspondent. "But then I thought the same last year too."
"Everything you hear about the Brazilians is true," said another. "A very large number of them are here and they themselves say it is due to the cheap tickets."
One person who isn't complaining about an increase in Brazilian surfers is Australian Nathan Bartlett who, as Stab reported, was recently rescued by three Brazilians when he hit the reef at Desert Point - which has jokingly been renamed B'Land. If it wasn't for the quick thinking of Renan Farias, Rodrigo Cardoso, and Kako Lopes, the outcome could have been grim.
The spokesperson for Qatar Airways said this was the second time they'd run the Travel Festival and due to the growing success it was highly likely they'll do it again next year.
They also said it was highly unlikely Sydney to Denpassar would be a part of it - they don't even fly that route.
Postscript: The Qatar Airways special ended last month so Indo's Brazilian Storm - real or imagined - has cleared.