BRASILIA: A committee formed by the Brazilian government will monitor prices of hotel rates and plane tickets during the World Cup next year to prevent abusive price hikes.
The group was formed by President Dilma Rousseff and is comprised of members of different ministries. Its formation follows numerous complaints from consumer advocates and reports of huge price increases from the tourism industry for next summer’s tournament.
A study by the Brazilian tourism board found that rate will rise by up to 500% in some hotels offered by the FIFA-appointed agency MATCH Services. Brazil’s largest newspaper also reported that a 45-minute flight from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo on the day of the World Cup final would almost cost as much as a flight to New York or Paris.
The tournament is expected to attract three million local visitors and 600,000 foreign tourists, many of whom will primarily fly around the huge country to follow the tournament, which makes the price of flights a particular concern.
Gleisi Hoffmann, President Rousseff’s chief of staff, said: “We don’t set prices and we won’t set prices, but we won’t allow abuses. We will use all of our available instruments to defend the rights of consumers, whether they are Brazilian consumers or international consumers.”
The new committee is expected to meet for the first time next week.
Brazil sports minister has pledged there will be “zero tolerance” for hotels that charge abusive prices and that doing so would hurt Brazil’s image around the world. Hotel prices became a controversial topic during last year’s Rio+20 UN conference, when the average hotel in Rio cost almost $800 a night, leading to the entire European Parliament delegation cancelling their trip.
Brazil’s tourism board, Embratur, has officially told FIFA and hotel operators to negotiate lower prices during the World Cup. It has also notified the justice ministry department that is reponsible for consumer rights issues.
Embratur president Flavio Dino said: “This measure by President Dilma and Minister Gleisi is essential to safeguard the image of Brazilian tourism abroad. Our monitoring of the international media shows that we can’t allow this image that the Brazilian government will not act against abuses.”