The smart money is heading to Rio – now

The general expectation is that there will be a tourism boom during a large event such as the Olympics. However, the smart money realises that the exceptional demand on services raises costs to unjustified levels whilst simultaneously reducing the quality of services on offer (the best of the best being reserved for so-called VIPs). The best time to visit a host city is just after the event which, for Rio de Janeiro, is now.

The Olympic effect

Even as far back as the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000) and then Athens (2004) local hotel owners have predicted a surge in demand for rooms and raised prices accordingly. It was widely reported that during these games, rooms were priced at about three times the going rate – and sold out.

rio-olympics-2016

The 2008 games were held in Beijing and, as seen by one living in the country at the time, a great success in many ways. Local hotel owners would have been less happy as forecast demand was dampened by very tightly enforced visa regulations and final prices had to be slashed to achieve even mediocre occupancy rates.

London (2012) fared little better with the additional demand from spectators being more than compensated for by a drop in demand from regular tourists wanting to avoid disruptions to their own plans. This piece [link to: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/jul/07/olympics-london-hotels-slash-prices] from the Guardian at the time reports that it wasn’t just hotels that saw a drop in business but West End shows and exclusive restaurants too.

Since the revenues associated with the London games came under closer scrutiny one other pattern was established. There is some uncertainty as to when the disruption finishes (is this immediately after the Closing Ceremony or after the Para-Olympics or …) and revenues did not return to their normal level until some two months afterwards. Travellers with the ability to choose their dates planned their trips with this buffer to ensure that everything was back to normal, including prices and service standards.

rio-de-janeiro

Figures for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro do not seem to be available yet but it is likely that the general pattern will have been followed. If you have wanted to visit Rio de Janeiro then this could well be your opportunity. You will soon find that even the top hotel prices are depressed and so you will be able to sate a desire and pamper yourself for less, much less, if you take this opportunity and book soon.

Beaches and peaks

For many visiting Rio outside of the Carnival season is all about the glamour of the beaches interspersed with amazing views down from the famous peaks arcing around the bay. The discerning traveller may well fancy adding more of a cultural experience.

cristo-redentor

Copacabana Beach is the most famous of Rio’s many beaches but these days it is Ipenema Beach that sets the trends. Ipenema is also famous for its many beach events where locals and tourists take part in sports such as beach-volleyball and sand-soccer. Competition is friendly but intense.

Barra da Tijuca Beach and Prainha Beach offer breakers for those who enjoy surfing and other water-sports, or those who enjoy getting away from the pack.

Theatro Municipal

Those with an interest in classical culture may well be aware of this national treasure. It is worth visiting from an architectural point of view but is, perhaps, best enjoyed by taking in one of the many regular performances. Bookings can be made online in advance of travel so you can be sure not to miss out.

theatro-municipal

Football

Fans of the game may well seek out a match at the Maracanã stadium. This is home to both Flamengo and Fluminense though other Rio State teams play here on occasions too. South Americans are passionate about the game and you can be sure of a remarkable spectacle whatever the score.

Lapa neighbourhood

Lapa is ‘The scene’ so far as Rio is concerned. The neighbourhood has many restaurants and bars and is where Brazilian music reigns supreme, and artists meet and socialize. It is easy enough to find and orientate yourself in Lapa as the Arcos de Lapa (a huge monument to an 18th Century aqueduct) and the contemporary Metropolitan Cathedral dominate the skyline. The police take a particular interest in maintaining the reputation of the area and it is therefore rated safe for tourists and local residents alike.

lapa-neighbourhood

Restaurants

Whether you choose a Botequim (bar), Churrascaria (grilled meat restaurant) or other specialized restaurant in Rio, you can expect to find a wide range of delicious meat, seafood and vegetable offerings cooked to the highest standards. It is well worth checking out a few typical Brazilian options such as Feijoada (considered the national dish). A quick search online will find a list of dishes for you to seek out and enjoy. You will not normally be required to follow any particular code for dinner, the emphasis being a pleasant and relaxing evening.

Tip: if you are looking for a more cultural holiday then you could consider renting a luxury apartment rather than checking in to one of the top-end hotels. A little bit of online research will help you decide and arrange.

Ian Ford is Operations Manager at Photo Tours Abroad.

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