By George Utley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The IOC have predicted around 480,000 tourists will descend on Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016. However, given the positive effects of the World Cup, and a growing trend in travel in Latin America, experts believe this number could be surpassed.
For the 2016 Olympic Games, the so-called “Olympic family” of athletes, officials, sponsors and journalists from the 204 competing countries will guarantee a high attendance at South America’s first ever Games. However, many more local tourists are expected to attend in 2016.
Only 18,000 Brazilians went to Beijing in 2008, compared with 50,000 who went to London in 2012, representing a growing enthusiasm for Olympic sports. Subsecretary of State for Tourism, Carlos Luiz Martins, believes the success of the World Cup will further enhance Rio’s reputation as a major tourist destination.
“The international media was very skeptical of Brazil holding the Cup […] The foreigners who came expecting to find a real jungle, fearing being robbed, saw that Rio is a kind and hospitable city, and know that the Brazilians cope with diversity really well. This was very good for the image of Brazil and will help us in the Olympics.”
Another factor affecting attendances in 2016 will be the large numbers of Latin American tourists who traveled to Brazil during the World Cup, although according to Professor Mendes Bayard Boteaux of Universidade Cândido: “They forgot to display signage in Spanish. There were no information signs in Spanish in Rio’s subway, for example. For us, Portuguese can be very similar to Spanish, but for Latinos it is often difficult to understand Portuguese.”
In London, 8.8 million tickets were sold for events in 26 different sports over sixteen days. There were many empty seats in the opening rounds of the football competition – something which is not expected to be a problem in Brazil. By comparison, the total number of tickets sold during the World Cup was 3,429,873. Rio will have 28 sports on display, after the addition of golf and rugby sevens.
The Ministry of Tourism estimated that 600,000 foreign tourists and 3.1 million Brazilians are participating in FIFA World Cup Events (games and Fan Fest), spending a total of R$4.05 billion in twelve difference host cities in Brazil during the month-long event.
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