By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Tourism in the state of Rio de Janeiro lost R$320 million in revenues in the first four months of 2017, according to data compiled by the National Confederation of Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC). The amount is equivalent to 42 percent of total sector revenue loss registered between January and April in Brazil.
Though the analysis also takes into account other factors that led to the sector’s decline in gross revenues, such as unemployment, increased expenses for Brazilians traveling abroad, credit shortages and a high comparative base with revenues seen during the 2016 Olympic Games, the entity sees a direct correlation between increase in crime and decrease in tourism.
“Although other factors directly related to the economic situation also help to explain the fall in activity in tourism in Rio de Janeiro, undoubtedly, the increase in crime in Rio de Janeiro has contributed greatly to aggravate the loss of dynamism of this sector in the state,” says CNC economist Fabio Bentes.
According to the CNC, for each ten percent increase in crime, revenues from the state’s tourism sector declines by an average of 1.8 percent. Revenue losses are more significant in bars and restaurants (R$167.2 million), and transportation, travel agencies and car rental companies (R$105.5 million). Hotels registered losses of R$47.8 million during the period in comparison to the same time last year.
Data from the Institute of Public Security of Rio de Janeiro (ISP-RJ) shows that between April 2016 and April 2017, the total number of crimes registered in the State increased by 6.4 percent.
The Confederation states that although tourists are not often the direct victim of most of the crimes recorded, the increase in crime in recent months and the consequent perception of a reduction in security have contributed decisively to the decrease in the activity level of the sector in the state.
“Violence affects tourism because it damages the image of Rio de Janeiro. Brazilians themselves do not want to visit Rio anymore. This is a perverse reality, amplified by the economic crisis of the country and the state,” concludes Alexandre Sampaio, director for business tourism and hospitality at CNC.
Lauren Quinn, an American expatriate living in Rio and owner of Casa Bromelia – Rio Travel Concierge shares her thoughts, “The number one prevention of growth in tourism for Rio is ‘Fear’. Rio is on everyone’s ‘must see list’, but so many give up before arrival for fear of the violence.”
Adding, “However, visitors are always apprehensive regardless of the current situation and will continue to flock to Rio because of its uniqueness! So they have not all been avoiding Rio in 2017 per se, but a safer city would undoubtedly see a large increase in tourism and a boost to the economy.”