By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Monday, August 29th, the Brazilian Association of the Rio de Janeiro Hotels Industry (ABIH-RJ) released the results of its latest survey showing that for the upcoming 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, the occupancy rate of Rio de Janeiro hotels stands at a tepid 49 percent. The current figure represents a sharp contrast from the highly successful 2016 Rio Olympics, which saw occupancy rates in some areas reach as high as 96 percent.
According to the ABIH-RJ survey, the hotel occupancy rate in the city during the Paralympics, from September 7th to September 18th, is actually lower than the usual average for the month of September, which is around 65 percent.
Hotels in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) are, at the time of writing, well below that figure. In the highly desirable neighborhoods of Ipanema and Leblon, for example, hotels are currently showing 55 percent occupancy.
In contrast, according to the ABIH-RJ, during the 2016 Rio Olympics, which began on August 5th and lasted until August 21st, hotels throughout the city reached almost one hundred capacity for the entire three week period.
During the Olympics, the upscale neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) was among the most sought-after areas due to its convenient location to Olympic Park, the largest of the Olympic and Paralympic sites, and the athletes’ residence, Olympic Village.
As part of the neighborhood’s development in preparation for the surge of visitors, the number of available hotel rooms in the area doubled from six thousand in 2010 to twelve thousand this year.
But, while Barra occupancy rates were an impressive 96 percent for the Olympics, at the time of writing, for the Paralympics, hotels in the area are barely beating the September average, standing currently at 67 percent.
In response to the low demand for hotels during the Paralympics, the ABIH-RJ are joining other various tourism organizations such as the Rio de Janeiro City Office of Tourism (RioTur), the Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau (Rio CVB), and the Brazilian Association of Tour Operators (Braztoa) to offer special Paralympic promotional tour packages that will include airfare, lodging and tickets to competitions.
“We hope to attract 100,000 visitors, especially from the São Paulo market,” said Alfredo Lopes, president of ABIH-RJ.
The effort to stimulate lodging during the Paralympic Games complements recent successful campaigns to promote ticket sales to the once fiscally challenged event.
On Monday, officials announced that Paralympic ticket sales just surpassed the one million mark, continuing the string of strong sales over the course of the past several days.
“We have seen queues at our box office and you can feel the atmosphere of the games taking over the city,” said Donovan Ferretti, Rio 2016 director of tickets. “There are still plenty of opportunities to see these amazing and inspiring athletes up close and the best way to buy tickets is through the website.”
With eight days until the opening ceremony, there are still about 1.5 million tickets available for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.