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500,000 Foreign Tourists to Attend Brazil World Cup Games

May 16 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil raised its estimate of the number of overseas ticket holders for soccer’s World Cup by 66 percent to 500,000.

The figures, from deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes, follow a forecast of 300,000 given by Brazil’s tourism ministry last week. Fernandes said the total number of visitors from overseas, including travelers without game tickets, will be “significantly more” than 500,000.

“It is already a proof of the success of the World Cup,” Fernandes told reporters following a meeting between World Cup officials at the official residence of Rio’s mayor. “The legacy of economic and social returns has already been built.”

With less than a month to go until the tournament begins, several projects remain unfinished, including the Sao Paulo stadium that will open the competition on June 12. Games will be played in 12 cities across South America’s biggest country during the monthlong event.

There were protests and strikes in several cities yesterday over the $11 billion cost related to staging the World Cup. Police in Sao Paulo used tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes with demonstrators, a tactic used during protests at a World Cup test event held last year.

“The absolute majority are not against the World Cup,” Rio’s mayor Eduardo Paes said.

About a third of overseas ticket holders are expected to visit Rio de Janeiro, which will stage seven matches including the July 13 final at the Maracana stadium.

Paes said his city’s experience of hosting big events should ensure a trouble free event.

“The eyes of the planet will be on Rio,” he said.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net Dex McLuskey, Jay Beberman

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