With World Cup, Olympics In Mind, Rio Looks To Solve Hotel Shortage
With next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games arriving in Rio de Janeiro, local officials are "scrambling to solve a chronic hotel bed shortage" so severe that during a UN conference there last year, the mayor had to "appeal to residents to open their apartments to visitors," according to Jenny Barchfield of the AP. The plan is to slash property taxes for love hotels, known as "motels" in Portuguese, that "agree to tone down the decor" and free up 90% of their rooms for the tens of thousands of visitors expected to flood the city. About a third of the city's 180 hotels rent rooms by the hour, mostly for "amorous rendezvous." Rio chapter of the ABIH hotel owners association VP Antonio Cerqueira said, "Motels have all the know-how to be able to put people from around the world up in style. What throws people is really just the decoration." With only 25,000 beds, or just half the estimated 50,000 needed for the Olympics, authorities "hope to add about another 6,000 beds through motel conversions." Cerqueira said that new hotels with another 14,500 beds "are also in the works." By comparison, London had about 110,000 hotel beds for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Motel operators are "still in talks with city officials over the finer points," but Cerqueira said that he expects the deal "to be inked by the end of the month" (AP, 1/18).