By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Possibly the greatest New Year’s Eve party on earth will be a little shorter this year, with a fireworks display reduced from 16 minutes to 12 minutes. Amidst the state’s financial crisis, the city’s tourism secretary Antônio Pedro Figueira Mello announced the reduction via Globo TV’s morning news show “Bom Dia Rio”.
Secretary Mello explained that while a lack of sponsorship means a shorter firework display, the Ano Novo (New Year) celebrations, referred to as Réveillon, is still expected to draw nearly two million to Copacabana beach and bring an estimated 800,000 tourists into the city.
“Because of the crisis, we had to reduce [the show]. It was 16 minutes, now it will be 12 minutes of fireworks this year. I do not think it loses its grandeur. It’s a lot of fireworks that people see there. What we could do was to decrease either the quantity of the fireworks, or their grandeur. I think Rio is one of the places with the best fireworks in the world. So, we kept the spectacle’s grandeur,” said the secretary.
According to the secretary, for eight years sponsors were able to pay for most of the expense, but this year the city had to spend R$5 million. “This year with the crisis, we had difficulty. Now, in the final stretch we got sponsorship for part of the party, but the city had to bear the cost for another part. Obviously, this was already reserved, it was already on schedule, because [the New Year’s Eve party] can not cease to exist!”
At the same time Mello emphasized that the expectation of financial return to the city justifies the expense. “We expect about 800,000 tourists to come to the city in the New Year period. […] That generates a revenue for the city of about R$680 million.”
Tourism operator Facu Espinosa of Rio Hunter, shares his sense that the evening will still be amazing. “There is magic around Réveillon. It comes from looking up the sky and be stunned by the fireworks surrounded by family and friends. It is the energy of millions of people dressed up in white at the beach, sharing their hopes for the new year. I think the essence of the party is not about the amount of time itself, but about being part of it.”
The municipal tourism agency, Riotur, estimates is that Copacabana’s New Year’s Eve attracts around two million people. According to a survey by the Brazilian Hotel Industry Association (ABIH), hotel occupancy in Copacabana and Leme stands at 75.4 percent and Ipanema and Leblon registers 68 percent. The association still expects numbers to grow further with the last minute bookings.