By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After positive results from the New Year’s Eve holiday in Rio, there is optimism in the hotel industry for Carnival this year, with Brazilian Association of the Hotel Industry of the State of Rio (ABIH-RJ) predicting 85 percent occupancy.
According to the ABIH-RJ, the sector achieved an average occupancy of 98 percent on New Year’s Eve. The city also had 89 percent of the hotel rooms occupied for the holiday period, a significant improvement over the previous year, which closed with 78 percent.
It is expected that this summer the average occupancy rate will reach seventy percent, up from the 55 percent recorded last summer. According to state’s Secretary of Tourism, Nilo Sergio Felix, Rio should celebrate the results and continue working to attract more and more visitors to the interior of the State of Rio.
“We were very happy with the numbers of the New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro. We exceeded all expectations and presented a sensational celebration all over the state. I am sure that all summer we will keep the tourism hot,” secretary Felix told a Rio government news agency.
Certainly a major factor in the increase in hotel occupancy is a lowering of the daily rates. According to a survey by the association of hotels, the prices have dropped approximately fifteen percent compared to the same period last year, an adjustment considered natural due to the increase of at least 20,000 new hotel rooms created for the Olympics.
British expatriate living in Rio, Tom Le Mesurier of popular food guide Eat Rio, explains the industry environment. “The twelve months after the Olympics where really tough for everyone involved in tourism. Many operators struggled due to what they called the ‘Ressaca Olímpica’ (Olympic Hangover).”
He adds, “I am finally starting to see a steady improvement in tourism this year (it got going in November 2017). The fact that the numbers are improving despite continuing bad PR (stories of favela violence, etc) makes me feel that the low numbers in the last year were more to do with that post-Olympic effect than all those scare stories.”
As far as the hotel rates, Le Mesurier adds, “I think a [fifteen percent] decrease in accommodation rates is a great thing – it will help encourage people to visit the city and then spread the word about what a fantastic place this is.”
Continuing, “Many people are shocked when they discover how expensive everything is in Rio so reducing the price of accommodation seems like a great investment in tourism in general.”
Alfredo Lopes, president of ABIH-RJ had explained to the government news agency that the Rio de Janeiro a Janeiro (Rio January to January) tourism program is also helping. “We recently had the launch of the calendar of events […], which began this New Year’s Eve and promises a series of events in the summer.”
Adding, “[We also] carried out a strong promotional campaign that ran between August and November of this year, the main national markets that send tourists to Rio de Janeiro.”
Studies indicate that Brazilians should make up eighty percent of visitors this summer, mainly from São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Among foreigners, the largest groups will be from Argentina and Chile.