By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A new survey conducted by the Federação de Comercio do Rio de Janeiro (Fecomercio-RJ) and Fundação Getulio Vargas Projetos (FGV) shows that more than half of Rio de Janeiro state residents believe the Olympics will be successful. Although at the same time, only half of the residents interviewed said that they were in favor of the city hosting the two mega sports events.
The survey, which interviewed more than 2,400 people in the state, showed that more than sixty percent of those questioned said the city would put on a good show and that hotels, restaurants and bars were equipped and ready to welcome visitors.
“In six years, the number of hotel rooms in Rio de Janeiro more than doubled, because it was necessary to receive a record number of visitors,” Christian Travassos economics manager at Fecomércio-RJ told news agency Agencia Brasil. According to him, the number of rooms in Rio’s hotel industry went from 19,000 in 2010 to 43,000 this year.
The item to receive the lowest rating in the survey was public transportation, with 58 percent of those interviewed stating they did not believe the public transportation system was ready to serve all visitors coming into the city.
Another issue on residents’ minds is security, with 52 percent of city residents stating that guaranteeing security would be the main challenge for authorities during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Although ‘Olympic fever’ seems to be spreading throughout the city, with people lining up to take photos next to Olympic symbols and long lines of people waiting to enter the Olympic souvenir shop, only half of the residents interviewed said that they were in favor of the city hosting the two mega sports events.
Stefano (Tafo) Macchi, an Italian expatriate and co-owner of the Casalegre Art Vila, a guesthouse and bed & breakfast (or pousada as termed in Brazil) in Santa Teresa, told The Rio Times, “The city is not really prepared even if they’ve tried to be.”
He feels, “The Olympic Games are a big ‘excuse’ to change things and make money. [The above ground VLT train in Centro] is pointless considering the price of a small ride, for the time it take to go from A to B, it just a reflection visitors, to see how modern Rio has become.”
Macchi did admit he thought that the “Barra development is maybe a good thing for those who live there, but the Metro has miles to go before being ‘useful’ like in other cities. [But] Centro and the Port Zone are much better looking and developed, now we wait and see what will happen after Olympic Games, if they continue to be better or get worse.”
A similar survey published last week, but interviewing Brazilians all around the country, showed that only 32 percent believe that the Olympics and Paralympics will benefit the country, while sixty percent believe that the Games will have a more negative effect on nation.