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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Trying to generate a little extra income during the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics, Rio residents are renting rooms and entire apartments for visitors in August and September. According to Airbnb, an official partner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), tens of thousands of listings were included just for the two-month event.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro,Some Airbnb rentals offer beautiful view,
Some Airbnb rentals offer beautiful view, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur.

“In Rio, hosts offer over 35,000 listings across eighty neighborhoods in the city. More importantly, Airbnb is helping thousands of families make extra income in a period of economic hardship in the country,” announced the international accommodation service earlier this week.

According to Airbnb, in 2015, host income and guest spending in Rio de Janeiro city alone generated revenues of US$160 million ‘helping spread income and business to parts of the city that may not usually see much economic activity’. The service hopes that the results this year, due to the Games, will be higher.

Government news sources report the average price for reservations for the mega-event runs approximately R$193/night per person, depending on the neighborhood and amenities. Most visitors staying at these rentals will spend around six days in Rio, with many opting to rent in less-touristy areas than Zona Sul (South Zone), and favoring places closer to the Olympic venues.

Although accommodation service networks are optimistic about the results of the next few months, data from the Rio de Janeiro Housing Syndicate (Secovi-RJ), whose members are hotels, shows that the expectation of a significant increase in revenues from those seen during the 2014 World Cup is unlikely to occur, since this year visitors have searched for lower priced units.

“There’s the whole issue of technology, which is now more accessible. People [search] through the internet, from their computers or smartphones. This makes it easier to access websites that provide these services,” Secovi’s vice-president, Leonardo Schneider, was quoted by news outlet G1 as saying.

The impact has also been felt on the temporary apartment rental agencies, as Charlie Crocker, a British expatriate and owner of Van West Property in Rio explains. “Airbnb is a fantastic service and it has certainly helped many households make a little extra on the side. I have an apartment which I bought as an investment and it would be crazy for me not to have it listed on Airbnb.”

Yet he adds, “As an agent, I find it really hard to compete with Airbnb at the low to middle sector of the market. So how does an agent improve on a service like Airbnb? We are able to vet each property we work with, and point out the flaws which are not immediately obvious on Airbnb.”

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