By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Despite occupancy rates falling below last year for the New Year’s Eve festivities in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone), the industry is optimistic, and points to the major increase in capacity following the rooms the city added for the Olympic Games.
In a report by local news outlet O Globo, the hotel occupancy in Zona Sul is 85 percent, compared to 94 percent the city saw last year for New Year’s Eve. However in Barra da Tijuca, where most of the Games and new hotel rooms were added, the occupancy is 78 percent verses the 65 percent from last year.
President of the Brazilian Hotel Industry Association (ABIH), Alfredo Lopes, explained “More tourists will come to Rio in comparison with last year, because the [amount of rooms available] has increased a lot,” according to O Globo.
Adding, “We have opened nearly 18,000 rooms this year. I think it will be a good result in the face of the crisis. We are having too much demand, [and] with the crisis, people have left making reservations until the last minute. And as New Year’s Eve has fallen over the weekend, people are opting for shorter packages. I think it’s going very well.”
However the same report shows that the optimism is not shared by all in Rio. Director of the Hotel Mar Palace in Copacabana, Raphael Pazos says that, unlike last year, they are still not full. “Last October, we had sold everything for New Year’s Eve. Now, with six days left for the upcoming party, fifteen percent of the rooms are still open,” he says. “The crisis we are experiencing is affecting tourism.”
Despite reported cut-backs, the municipal tourism agency, Riotur, estimates that Rio will receive 865,000 tourists in the New Year period, which will bring US$691,000 into the economy of Rio de Janeiro. As in recent years, about two million people are expected to attend the Ano Novo (New Year) celebrations, referred to as Réveillon, on Copacabana’s beach.