By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The city of Rio de Janeiro has lost more than R$657 million of its tourism revenues during the eight first months of the year due to crime and violence, according to a new survey conducted by the National Confederation of Commerce of Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC).
The loss is equivalent to 29 percent of the total loss of the sector’s revenues during the period (R$2,291 billion).
The segment of bars and restaurants suffered more than half of the loss (R$332.1 million), according to the survey, with both tourists and residents afraid to go out due to the increasing reports of violent clashes between police and trafficking gangs.
The violence also makes it harder for those who live in these communities plagued with the escalating violence to go to work.
One of the first and most famous health food venues in Rio, Couve-Flor, closed its Jardim Botanico location restaurant in September. According to owner Jair Pinto, the armed disputes in the Rocinha favela community led to repeated absences of many of his employees who live in the community. “In a single day eleven employees missed work,” Pinto told Globo newspaper. “They could not leave the house because of the shootings.”
Another city landmark, Osteria Policarpo, located in Rio’s Humaita neighborhood, closed its doors last month, after 25 years. According to chef and owner Luiz Gennari, the restaurant did not resist the strong economic crisis and the increased violence faced by the city in the past year.
“Unfortunately the situation of our country, state and city is very complicated and we will not be able to remain open,” said the restaurant in its social media page.
The segments of transportation, travel agencies and car rental companies also suffered losses, totaling R$215.5 million, or 32.6 percent of the total revenues while the segment of hotels and inns registered losses of R$97.7 million, or 14.8 percent of the total revenues during the January-August 2017 period.
To help reassure residents and tourists, on September 30th, the Military Police of Rio’s State launched an operation to reinforce the security in Rio’s beaches, from Flamengo to Recreio. With eight hundred extra police officers patrolling the areas, the effort is part of the 2017-2018 Summer Operation.