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Brazil rentals feel the World Cup squeeze

By ZHANG FAN | China Daily USA | Updated: 2014-06-02 03:40

Though the opening match of the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup is to kick off in Sao Paulo in less than 20 days, you can hardly find any specific theme decorations on its streets. However, there is one sure sign that the largest event for the world's football fans is indeed on the way here: the prices of the hotel rooms and housing rentals.

"I am sorry but all the standard rooms from June 12 to 15 have been booked, but you can choose a room with a queen-sized bed at $316 per night," said an assistant at Quality Jardins, a hotel located in the center of Sao Paulo.

"Because of the World Cup, the room will charge more on game days, which means you only need to pay $194 for any other time," said the assistant.

I got similar answers from the InterContinental, a 4.5-star hotel in Sao Paulo, where a manager at the front desk smiled kindly to me and said I could have a top-class room for about $800 per night from June 12 to 15.

"All the standard rooms are full then, but I can guarantee you will enjoy your stay here with a reasonable price," said the manager, adding that some hotels are charging $1,200 per night during that period.

"So we are quite reasonable," he shrugged.

Brazil rentals feel the World Cup squeeze

The Brazilian tourism ministry predicted that about 600,000 foreigners will pour into Brazil to watch the World Cup. Such news triggered a sharp increase in demand among local hotels and the short-term housing rental market. The tourism board said some hotels had increased their prices up to 500 percent.

It definitely worries football fans, who have already paid for expensive flights to travel all the way to Brazil for travel from China, for example, the ticket can be almost $2,000. Reuters and the Telegraph described the situation as "sky-high prices in Brazil" and "inflated prices".

Though the Brazilian government has promised that it will investigate the situation and expressed concerns that such price gouging would "harm the rights of potential consumers", according to a document obtained by the AP, the tourism board's study, known as Embratur, still shows a 376 percent increase in prices in Brasilia and a 100 percent in Sao Paulo.

"There has been news recently that prices of house rentals and hotels in Rio de Janeiro will decrease, but I find this is not the situation," said a manager of a Chinese travel agency in Rio de Janeiro who preferred to stay anonymous.

She said the price of hotels located far from the beaches in Rio de Janeiro has increased to more than $445 per day and a four-room apartment near the beach of Copacabana can reach $2,000 a week.

"The situation now is that you can hardly find a room in a hotel at the hot spots near the beaches and the stadium, even if you have the money," she said.

Brazil is not only famous for its football but also for its beautiful scenery. Rio de Janeiro has been named one of the "best value destinations" in the 2013 edition of the Lonely Planet.

"July has always been a hot period in Rio de Janeiro because people from the United States and other countries usually come to Rio to enjoy their family holidays, so the rooms available then will be even less," said the manager.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is to be a crowded one, according to the situation so far. To ease the pressure of the flood of tourists, the Brazilian government announced a $5.4 billion investment in 2013 to build 422 hotels by 2016. If the program comes off as planned, maybe sports fans can expect more reasonable rates for the Olympic Games.

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