After Rio de Janeiro won the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, the country and South America is now looking to the benefits that tourism will bring from hosting the event.
Infrastructure and revenues from tourism look set to get a boost, in a region that has seen international arrivals drop by one percent from January to July this year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
“Rio represents the whole of South America to a certain extent. It is the first time that South America gets the Olympic Games. It is great news for Brazil,” said Mario Moyses, vice minister of tourism for Brazil.
“We have the 2014 [soccer] World Cup so this is a big year of opportunity, aside of the Olympics. And we will also work with our other South American countries to build up visitors.”
News that Rio de Janeiro beat Chicago, Madrid, and Tokyo in a competition to host the games was met with jubilation by the South American delegations at the 18th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
Rio had the least-prepared infrastructure of the four cities competing for the Games. Now the city will look to build the Olympic Village, as well as other developments at a cost of US$10 billion.
A total of 25,000 of the 48,000 hotel rooms needed for the event are also in the pipeline, yet the city will look to provide accommodation on cruise ships.
“There are challenges regarding safety and security. There are challenges regarding the organization. But the commitment of the people I am sure are going to overcome those challenges,” said Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO regional representative for the Americas.
Security issues are improving as the city and Brazil’s economy develops, with more than 20 million people rising out of poverty in the last five years, according to the vice minister.
A high-speed train between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro costing US$20 billion will be constructed. A proposal to revitalize the port area, at a cost of US$210 million, will also go ahead, said the vice minister.
Rio will also look to upgrade its metro system. Currently it does not reach Barra da Tijuca, a suburb on the outskirts of the city. This is where most of the Olympic venues will be situated.
Brazil gets five million visitors a year according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, which have only risen by 0.5 percent between 2007 and 2008.
News that Rio de Janeiro won the Games boosted shares of infrastructure and tourism-related companies on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange on Friday.
Rio looks will give Brazil’s economy a US$24.5 billion boost between now and 2027, according to a government-commissioned study by nonprofit group Fundacao Instituto de Administracao.