By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Once booming and full of high expectations, Rio de Janeiro’s hotel industry is now facing a crisis, as occupation rates plummet and thirteen hotels have closed since the end of the 2016 Olympics.

Rio's hotels are suffering with low occupation rate due to the state's economic crisis, lack of investments in the sector and violence reports,
Rio’s hotels are suffering with low occupation rate due to the state’s economic crisis, lack of investments in the sector and violence reports, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur.

The city’s economic crisis, the lack of marketing campaigns, as well as reports of increasing violence have hindered the city’s tourism industry.

According to Brazilian Hotel Industry Association (ABIH-RJ) Rio de Janeiro chapter president, Alfredo Lopes, says that the lack of investments, more than the violence, is the main culprit for the crisis seen by the hotel industry today.

“After the Olympics, we did not have any marketing to attract the end consumer; to sell Rio throughout the country and the world,” said Lopes in an interview to local newspaper O Globo this week.

Expatriate and owner of WhereInRio luxury real estate firm, Frederic Cockenpot agrees, and shares, “The federal government and the city government invested billions in the city for the Olympics, then the state went broke and not since then has there been a single campaign to stimulate tourism.”

“It’s a shame as Rio has everything to welcome so many more tourists. The impact is terrible for hotels as well as vacation rentals agencies like mine. To survive, the only option is to cut prices…. Many hotels and [apartment rental] agencies have closed since then,” concludes Cockenpot.

Brazil, Rio,Ipanema Plaza in the heart of one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Rio closed its doors recently
Ipanema Plaza in the heart of one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Rio closed its doors recently, photo internet reproduction.

The seemingly increase of violence reported by local and international media also is said to have contributed to the reduction of tourists visiting the city.

“The increase in uncertainties in public safety in Rio de Janeiro has caused a loss of confidence in tourism and events in the capital. It is undeniable that security problems harm the image of the city. In the tourism market, this negative image will continue to be felt for another year or two, if nothing is done soon,” said Cockenpot.

But it is not all bad news. If on the one hand, recreation tourists are shying away from Rio, corporate tourism is picking up, according to Renato Pezzino, regional sales manager for Brasilia-based hotel chain, Nobile Hoteis.

“The hotel occupancy for the corporate segment in Rio de Janeiro is picking up. This sector is a great business promoter for the hotel industry in Rio. In this sector we have noticed an improvement,” said the executive in an interview to Hotelier News website.

As far as tourists’ take on it, Bill Owen, a resident of San Francisco, U.S., has visited the Cidade Maravilhosa fourteen times, and was sadden with the news that one of his favorite hotels, Ipanema Plaza, had recently closed its doors.

“Ipanema between Postos 8 & 9 is known as one of the busiest and most popular gay beaches in the world. And many of the beachgoers made their reservations at the Ipanema Plaza because it was such a convenient location for sun and surf,” explained Owen.


  1. I have been going to Brazil, and Rio in particular, for eight years. Now, whenever the topic of Rio comes up among my friends, they invariably and immediately say things like Oh, but aren’t you worried about the gangs, the violence, the theft? Are you safe there? And the government is in such turmoil. And the homophobia. Promoting tourism is not the solution if it consists of trying to lure people into an environment that they know is not the paradise promoted in pictures, video, and tourist literature. It’s time to fix that environment.

  2. Rio is not the paradise at the moment. Time to change it. Have been there twice. Reality has nothing to do with the myths about Rio. People are not friendly but hope to get solved their problems by outsiders. Hope you get your spirit back …. Fight for your country ….

  3. Rio de Janeiro is wonderful, but this violence that only increases, is destroying the reputation of Rio, I had to stay in a hotel near the police battalion to feel a little more secure.

  4. I’m from New York City, but I’ve lived in Rio for over 15 years as my wife is Brazilian.

    Rio has a tremendous amount of possibilities, but the government completely misses the point of investing in its own people!

    It is God to make human capital investments to make this place amazing, it misses the boat when it comes to investing in education and investing in the human capital of Rio de Janeiro.

    Investing in the built environment is not enough to attract tourist.

    This is why the violence continues to escalate out of control.


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