By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Authorities in Rio say that the estimated 857,000 tourists who came to Rio for New Year’s Eve this year brought US$686 million (approximately R$2.7 billion) into the city’s economy, and helped push the hotel occupancy rate of the top hotels to 98 percent. This beats the average for the period of ninety percent in Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon.
The numbers well exceeded official goals for Ano Novo (New Year’s Eve), as on December 27th, President of the Hotels of the Brazilian Association (ABIH), Alfredo Lopes, had estimated that it would be between 85 and 88 percent. All the numbers were better that the new year period between 2014 and 2015, when the rate had been 73.89 percent.
It was a welcome turn-around for the city, which the government tourism agency Riotur attributes to both the lower value of the Brazilian real currency to the U.S. dollar, as well as the international exposure of the 2014 World Cup and this year’s Olympics.
“It was the best New Year’s Eve in recent times, the city had one of the highest occupancy rates, and a greater number of rooms available. Forty thousand [rooms] and we’re going to gain another two thousand before the Olympics.” said the municipal secretary of Tourism, Antonio Pedro Figueira de Mello. Adding, “We hope to repeat this success in the next year, since we have the great momentum of the Olympics, [and also] when 18,000 journalists from around the world will be in Rio, broadcasting images of the city.”
The sense of better times for tourism was shared by Chuck Cassie, Canadian expatriate living in Rio, and managing partner of the Lucky Screw American Irish Pub on Copacabana beach. He said, “There were definitely more people at The Lucky Screw than in previous years. I guess the real being so low makes Copacabana beach a more attractive vacation spot for New Year’s Eve.”