Visa reforms by the US government have spurred an “exceptional” period of growth in tourism from Brazil.

UK-based B2B wholesaler JacTravel reported Brazilian bookings to the US more than doubling in the last year, 127% up by value and 112% up by number of bookings.

The company attributes the surge in growth to measures taken by the US to speed up visa processing.

Visas could only be issued by the four US consulates in Brazil and the waiting time was 100 days until early last year.

However, the US State Department added processing staff and opened new offices in March 2012 with an “immediate and dramatic” impact.

Waiting times have dropped down to just a week or even a couple of days in some places, and demand for US tourist visas has increased more than 60% in a few months.

The Brazilian government is lobbying the US to include Brazil in the Visa Waiver Program. President Dilma Roussef and Barack Obama had a meeting last year about this subject and talks are still ongoing.

JacTravel sales director Alexia Renedo said: “We would be delighted to see any further easing of travel restrictions because this would be good for our business. However, it would also be good for the economies of the USA and of Brazil.

“In Latin America, there’s a huge appetite to travel and the measures taken by the US are evidently intended to take advantage of that enthusiasm.”

She was speaking ahead of the first WTM Latin America taking place in Sao Paulo from today.