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Brazil Opens World Cup Tourism Drive Amid Concern Over Prices

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Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s state-run tourist agency today started a $10 million campaign to entice visitors to South America’s biggest nation for next year’s World Cup amid concerns high prices may keep fans away.

Flavio Dino, president of tourist board Embratur, said fears over excessive pricing in the hotel and airline sector “are real” and talks are currently under way to ensure rates for the monthlong soccer championship are within “objective and reasonable parameters.”

Brazil’s government last week set up a commission, which includes officials from consumer protection and competition bodies, to target abusive pricing during the World Cup, which runs from June 12 to July 13. Embratur published a report in August that showed hotels in the 12 host cities raising prices as much as fivefold, while Brazilian media reported a 50-minute flight between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo during the tournament costs as much as $1,000, more than some flights from Rio to New York.

“It is not up to the government to set prices but we have legal mechanisms like the Brazilian competition law and consumer protection law that can be used to hinder prices abuses,” Dino said on a conference call with reporters yesterday.

The World Cup program will see games played across the 3.3 million-square mile (8.5 million-square kilometer) country from Porto Alegre in the south to Manaus, the northern capital of the Amazonas state. The logistics required to ferry an estimated 600,000 visiting fans and 3 million domestic travelers between venues have led to discussions about changing the flight grid and opening domestic routes up to foreign airlines, Dino said.

More Flights

“ We have the view that it is important to ensure more flights,” Dino said. “We are re-planning our air network. We may open the market to companies that just deal internationally.”

A final decision will be made following the Dec. 6 draw that determines where teams will play. Brazil’s current flight network often requires travelers to make multiple changes between cities, leading to lengthy trips. Dino said more direct flights between World Cup venues will be available for the tournament.

“We have the view that it’s important to ensure an expansion in the supply of flights,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at tpanja@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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