The FIFA World Cup has officially gotten underway with Brazil beating Croatia 3-1 in the opening match on Thursday evening. The month-long tournament is a chance for the world’s seventh largest economy to showcase its best attributes. However, the lead up to the event has been hampered by a number of issues. SBD Global talked to Brazilian Sports Minister ALDO REBELO and Tourism Minister VINICIUS LAGES about the opportunities and headaches of the hosting the World Cup finals.
On the importance of the World Cup for Brazil…
Lages: The goal is to showcase what makes Brazil such an attractive, rich, varied and unique destination: its products, attractions, colors, sounds, smells, tastes, but mainly its greatest treasure, which is the Brazilian people itself. We are a nation of warm people, from end to end, and we will welcome with open arms all foreigners who come to Brazil to be part of this great celebration. It’s a unique moment to improve our international image and promote tourism.
Rebelo: The World Cup has led to billions of reais in transactions by governments and the private sector. Therefore, our competitors at the geopolitical, as well as the economic level, do not accept that we also get an A in the staging of big events. However, if we do not get an A, we will get a B+. The coverage being provided by some media outlets has chosen to emphasize our problems, leaving aside our virtues in relation to the organization of the World Cup. Brazil, as any other country, has problems. We do not want to hide our difficulties, our imbalances. Little by little this is changing and the perception that we are able to stage the World Cup well will end up prevailing.
On improvements to the country’s infrastructure…
Lages: The 2014 FIFA World Cup is a great opportunity for Brazil to speed up the building of infrastructure that had been already scheduled in government planning. Big projects that were supposed to be ready in 2017 have been speeded up, and we are sure that our visitors are going to have a wonderful experience all over the country, starting at the time of their arrival.
Rebelo: The World Cup provided the opportunity of anticipating construction work aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure. Construction work not ready by the start of the FIFA tournament will be delivered soon after. Essential construction work for staging the World Cup has been finished.
On skyrocketing hotel rates and airfares...
Rebelo: The government has means to oversee and avoid overpricing. Competition between enterprises also works as a price regulator. Two airlines have already guaranteed maximum prices of $999 reais ($450) during the World Cup. This is less than what is charged on many domestic routes today. The hotel sector is able to supply for tourists and any overpricing will be repressed by legislation and the market itself. In case of airlines, it’s all about supply and demand. I mean, this is a self-regulated system. If you are searching for some flights to travel inside Brazil during the Cup, probably you will have a big and positive surprise.
Lages: The pricing freedom is a big conquest for the Brazilian society; therefore the government has the mission of stimulate the market’s competitiveness. In the case of the accommodations market, we have been encouraging alternatives for lodging such as camping, bed and breakfast places and hostels. The federal government has also been following the variation rating of essential services for tourists: lodging used to be a concern, but not anymore. Anyway, eventual outliers are being monitored by the government. We have been defending fair, reasonable prices and also a provision of quality services.
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