By Samindra Kunti, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the FIFA Confederations Cup and the World Youth Days approaching rapidly Rio de Janeiro’s hotel industry will be tested to provide sufficient accommodation for large numbers of international visitors. The industry is confident Rio’s hotel infrastructure and price monitoring will ensure these mega-events are a success.
Rio’s Maracanã Stadium will host three games during the FIFA Confederations Cup, including the final on June 30th, while the World Youth Day will bring catholic youngsters from around the world to Rio’s shores in July. Numerous football fans and an estimated two million pilgrims will descend upon the city, stretching Rio´s hotel capacity to the limit.
The hotel industry is confident though that Rio can deal with the major influx of international visitors. Juliana Castanheira, a spokesperson for the Association of Brazilian Hotels (ABIH), spoke to The Rio Times:
“Today the Rio hotel industry is booming. Many International chains are investing in the city and improving their services and facilities. Great icons of Rio hospitality like the Gloria Hotel and the old Meridien are being restored.”
Rio’s expanding hotel capacity hasn’t alleviated the unease about rising room rates across Rio de Janeiro. American tourist James Crotty expressed his concern about staying in Ipanema, “Rio is a great city to stay, but the hotel rates are on the expensive side and do not correspond with what you actually get. It’s pricey.”
Castanheira responds, “The market is the regulator itself. Rio is attractive and so it is only natural that prices are positioned among the top tourist destinations on the planet, but ABIH is working closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Embratur to identify abusive prices, not befitting the standard of services offered by the ventures. In those cases, consumer protection will be triggered.”
The high prices can force low-budget visitors out of the market, but accounting for 22.4 percent of all bookings in 2012 alternative accommodation is on the rise in Rio. Castanheira confirms this trend, “Rio boasts a large supply of bed and breakfasts, hostels and budget hotels. At least 6,000 motel rooms will be adapted for the Olympics. This movement is strengthening the demand for accommodation. Rates can be as low as R$30.”
The FIFA Confederations Cup and the World Youth Day are seen as a dress rehearsal for Rio de Janeiro in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. The organizing committee of the World Youth Day is taking measures to supply additional accommodation for pilgrims in schools, gyms, military and religious institutions, and parishes.
By 2016 Rio’s hotel industry will be operating at maximum capacity: the IOC stipulates that 27,000 rooms are required during the Olympics. Rio de Janeiro will exceed this total as 32,000 rooms are projected to welcome Olympic visitors. Meanwhile FIFA requires 55,000 hotel rooms over the World Cup in the entire country, but indicated in an early inspection report that it has no concerns as to Rio’s hotel capacity.