Brazil’s Rousseff Creates Committee to Monitor World Cup GougingTariq Panja
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff set up a committee to monitor prices and service quality ahead of next year’s World Cup amid concerns that visitors to soccer’s showcase event may encounter astronomical markups on lodging and transportation.
Embratur, Brazil’s tourism agency, in August published a study that said some hotels plan to increase rates during the World Cup six times higher than their current level.
“We will not allow abuses,” Chief of Staff Gleisi Hoffmann said yesterday in an e-mailed statement, announcing the formation of the group that meets for the first time Oct. 24. “We will use all the instruments available to the state to ensure the protection of consumer rights, whether Brazilian or foreign.”
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 regularly have warned hotel operators about prices in Brazil, where there are already concerns about capacity.
The monitoring group will include officials from the ministries of sports, justice, tourism, health, finance, the civil aviation Secretariat and Embratur.
The measure “is essential to ensure a good international image for Brazilian tourism,” said Embratur’s head, Flavio Dino. “The monitoring we do of the international media shows that we cannot have a situation that presents a picture of Brazil’s government as one that doesn’t act in the face of abuse.”
The task force will study prices and services in hotels, restaurants, airports and other tourist locations in host cities.
Embratur’s study compared what hotels are charging for the period of the 32-team World Cup 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 monthlong tournament will be $461, which is $161 more than the cost of staying in a hotel in Berlin when that city staged the 2006 final, the report said.
The biggest price surge reported by Embratur involved the northeastern city of Salvador, where one hotel is charging $509 per night during the World Cup. It charged $75 per night last month. Hotel rates in other cities are between 200 percent and 350 percent higher during the competition.