Brazil Warns Hotels Against Rate Spikes Prior to World Cup
Fans celebrate after Brazil's Fred scored against England during a friendly soccer game at the Maracana stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday June 2, 2013. Felipe Dana / AP Photo
A room shortage in several hosting cities will exacerbate the surge already common during global events. Airbnb and vacation rental sites may provide extra rooms, but those rates will also increase as the event gets under way.
Fans attending soccer’s World Cup next year face soaring hotel room prices, with rates rising as much as sixfold, according to Brazil’s tourism board.
The tournament will take place in June and July in 12 cities across South America’s biggest country. Soccer’s governing body FIFA and government ministers have regularly warned hotel operators about prices in Brazil, where there are already concerns over capacity.
A study released by Embratur compared what hotels are charging for the period of the World Cup, which kicks off on June 12, with current prices. Fans hoping to catch the July 13 final in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium will face prices more than double the average $200 per night charged in Johannesburg in 2010. The average cost per night in Rio around the time of the month-long World Cup will be $461, which is also $161 more than the cost of staying in a hotel in Berlin when that city staged the 2006 final, the report said.
FIFA didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment. Last year its general secretary Jerome Valcke warned that a shortage of hotel rooms in some cities could mean supporters would have to fly in and out on the day of games.
The biggest price surge reported by Embratur concerned the north-eastern city of Salvador, where one hotel is charging $509 per night during the World Cup. It charged just $75 per night last month. Hotel rates in other cities are between 200 percent and 350 percent higher during the competition.
Brazil’s sports minister Aldo Rebelo has warned the hospitality sector over prices in the past, saying that the government could take action against the worst offenders.
“The government will not tolerate overcharging because it would be damaging to both Brazil and the Cup’s host cities,” he said in June before the Confederations Cup, a warm-up event for the World Cup. “Those who think they can abuse consumers should know that the heavy hand of government will take action and hotels could even be closed as a result.”
Brazil has taken action against hotels in the past. Some that were found to have overcharged clients during a United Nations environment conference held in Rio last June were forced to make refunds.
Embratur’s report compared current hotel rates with those for the World Cup on the websites of hotels and MATCH Hospitality, FIFA’s official accommodation and corporate hospitality partner. MATCH may be the subject of an investigation by Brazil’s antitrust agency after it received a complaint from public prosecutors alleging abuse of its dominant position in the market, according to a statement from the prosecutors’ office.
Editors: Christopher Elser and Peter-Joseph Hegarty.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com.