...While Music Drums Up The Tourist TradeBill Hinchberger
Bahia's economic upturn didn't just happen; a large dose of boosterism has helped it along. Under Magalhes, who resigned recently to run for the federal senate, state officials pushed Bahia's attractions with more than 120 promotional road shows abroad. New roads, built to provide access to near-virgin beaches, triggered $220 million in hotel investment in the last two years.
In Salvador's colonial downtown, Pelourinho, a $2.5 million face-lift helped convert the area from a haven for drugs and prostitution to a tourist magnet. Mayor Lidice da Matta, a leftist-feminist, underscored the transformation with a campaign to reverse the city's unkempt, dangerous reputation. "Safe streets and a clean city make a greater impact on commercial ac-tivity and tourism than tax incentives," she says.
Pelourinho is also the home turf of a cultural resurgence spearheaded by Mlodum, a black-pride group whose percussionists won renown by recording with pop singer Paul Simon. Olodum marches to its own anti-Establishment drum: Started as a Carnaval music-and-dance corps, it moved into community organizing and social protest. Its activities provide jobs for 500 poor blacks from musicians to administrators. And with its latest venture, a T-shirt factory that includes a youth-employment scheme, Olodum has become a catalyst for Bahian industry as well.