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Brazil’s World Cup Tourism Is Small Potatoes Compared to Carnival Season

Jun 11, 2014 10:00 am

Getty Images

Woman dancing in the Sambodromo at Carnival in Rio. Getty Images


Brazil, facing criticism for its preparations for the World Cup, has a track record of organizing megaevents that lure millions more people than expected for the monthlong soccer tournament.

The Chart of the Day (below) compares Tourism Ministry statistics on the number of tourists expected during sport’s most-watched event to the number of visitors who attended other attractions. The 3.7 million people who will travel around Brazil during the World Cup falls short of the 6.6 million and 6.2 million tourists who traveled in the country during Carnival this year and last, respectively.

Event Participants
2013 Confederations Cup 250,000
2013 Rock in Rio 585,000
2013 Pope Visit 617,000
2014 World Cup 3,700,000
2013 Carnival 6,200,000
2014 Carnival 6,600,000

“The idea that we’ll have huge problems is exaggerated,” said Jamil Moyses Filho, an academic coordinator and professor of logistics and supply chain management at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, an education and research institution based in Rio de Janeiro. “In terms of flows of people, Carnival has those types of numbers.”

Brazil’s World Cup groundwork has cast attention on flaws in domestic infrastructure, which ranks 114 out of 148 nations in the 2013-2014 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report. While the country’s infrastructure has deficiencies and the threat of protests exists, experience with large-scale events such as Carnival and Pope Francis’s visit in 2013 bodes well as Brazil hosts the games, said Moyses, who in the past year has lectured on logistics challenges during the World Cup.

Salvador welcomed 567,000 visitors during Carnival this year, nearly double the roughly 300,000 tourists expected in the northeastern city during the World Cup. About 918,000 tourists went to Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, compared to an expected 554,000 for the soccer competition.

More foreign tourists went to Carnival celebrations in both cities this year than the amount expected to travel to those locations during the soccer tournament, data from local tourism offices Riotur and Saltur show.

To contact the reporters on this story: Matthew Malinowski in Brasilia at mmalinowski@bloomberg.net; Dominic Carey in Sao Paulo at dcarey5@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net.

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