Brazil Hospitality and the 2014 World Cup
Brazil is in 2014 expected to host an estimated 50,000 soccer fans from all over the globe. The event is to last for four weeks. The fans are expected to stay in the hotels, eat in restaurants, shop and visit Brazil’s many attractions. Hosting an event of this magnitude is a challenge especially for a developing economy like Brazil. However, with careful planning the opportunities accrued from hosting such events may outweigh the challenges it presents (PWC, 2010).
Tourism has traditionally been neglected in Brazil with the Ministry of Tourism established only in 2003. International tourism picked up only quite recently. There are 5.2 million international tourists going to Brazil every year. This is still below its potential capacity considering the number of tourist attraction sites it has (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). The tourism sector in Brazil focuses more on domestic tourism which the government deems more important. The hotel industry in Brazil is becoming increasingly attractive. Despite of all these, Brazil still lacks a more consolidated hotel industry. There are also highly attractive markets for entrepreneurial ventures in underdeveloped regions particularly in the northeast. There are well established hotel industries in the south (Embassy of Denmark, 2010).
Investments in the hotel industry are primarily done through the hotels, condo hotels, and mixed use properties where hotels and condominiums are developed together with residential, corporate towers, and shopping malls. Lack of infrastructure stifles Brazil’s hospitality industry. Most of the Brazilian cities that have been earmarked to host the World Cuplack the bed space for the visitors like Sao Paulo, Aparecida and so on as depicted by Portal Brazil (2010). Cities like the Natal and Fortaleza found in the North East are the perfect examples here. Brazil is experiencing investment in the hotel industry in the North, North East, North West, South, and South East (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). However, the future of hotel investment in Brazil primarily focuses on the North Eastern part as the region accounts for 48.2% of new investment projects and 83.3% of investment capital. Most businesses in these regions are investing in establishing new resorts. The cities that will host the FIFA 2013 World Cupare Manaus, Cuiaba, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Salvador, Recife, Natal, and Fortaleza will see a rise in the demand for the hospitality which will be supported by the favorable pricing as 37% of hotels are noted to be priced about right and another 37% high but still reasonable by Ernst & Young (2013).
Brazil is considered one of Latin America’s fastest growing Travel and Tourism economies. Its travel and tourism sector contributes directly to its GDP. The Travel and Tourism sector contributed a staggering U.S.$79 billion to GDP in 2011 as noted by Olivia R., (2012). This kind of contribution is way much higher than Chile’s and Colombia’s that are considered its contemporary in the region. Chile and Columbia contributed a paltry 4.7% to the GDP while Argentina and Peru’s Travel and Tourism sector contributed 3.7% and 3.6% to the GDP respectively (World Travel and Tourism Council, 2012). When the wider indirect and induced impacts of tourism on the Brazilian economy are brought into perspective, the industry’s contribution is nearly three times greater, accounting to an equivalent of 8.65 of Brazil’s total GDP. Over 7.7 million jobs in Brazil are supported by Travel and Tourism and its wider impacts (World Travel and Tourism Council, 2012). This accounts for nearly 8% of all employment in the entire Brazilian economy. Despite the fact that international tourism is doing well elevating visitor exports to U.S.$7 billion in 2011, it is the domestic business that is driving growth. In 2011, domestic tourism grew by 6.5% to U.S.$130 million (World Travel and Tourism Council, 2012).
The Brazilian tourism sector is set for positive growth figures if the government and the stakeholders agree to a number of open skies agreements. Brazil hospitality industry, nevertheless, faces a major challenge with two major sporting events coming up and more specifically the FIFA World Cup slated for the year 2014. First of all, the infrastructure has to be improved. Its major airports are operating at overcapacity, it has inadequate port infrastructure, and mostly importantly, it lacks adequate hotel rooms in major cities (United States Department of Transportation, 2010). The government has indeed initiated construction to ensure that such facilities are in place before the World Cup commences. The question is, will the firms in charge of these constructions adhere to the strict deadlines and timetables considering that the time is drawing near and near.
To be precise, there are 114.6 million passengers using the Brazilian airports. By 2014, this figure is projected to rise to a staggering 167 million (Federal Aviation Administration, 2013). This high flow of visitors in Brazil will generate the highly needed revenue and spur growth in the Brazilian economy. The revenue generated by the visitors is expected to increase from the current figures of U.S.$6.58 billion to U.S.$8.73 billion in 2014. The 2014 World Cup will therefore generate 3.63 million jobs per year and R$63.48 billion income for the population over the period of 2010-2014. The government will raise R$18.13 billion in tax collections.
The hotel industry in Brazil faces a mammoth preparation task (Hawkes, 2012). This challenge informed the government’s decision to launch a flagship investment program aimed at stimulating economic growth and developing infrastructure. This program will help in putting up infrastructure to be used during the 2014 World Cup. The first phase of the program was allocated $208 billion while the second was allocated $125 billion. The challenge is overwhelming considering that Brazil is now ranked alongside Russia, India, and China as the powerful BRIC emerging economies (Mignonac, 2012).
Because of the number of visitors who are expected to grace the 2014 World Cup, the hotel sector is in a race against time. The industry is literally under spotlight considering that it has never had to deal with an event the size of the FIFA World Cup. The sector is showing the prospects of managing the situation considering the interest the large international corporations have shown with regard to investing in the hotel industry (Jones L., 2012). The biggest headache for the local hospitality industry professionals is trying to ensure that the media attention of the games does not only benefit tourism in Rio, but also the surrounding areas as noted by the Danish Consulate General, (2010). The hospitality sector has to come up with a strong tourism brand that wholly reflects the tourism industry in Brazil as a whole. Brazil has very many big and attractive cities with very small hotel provisions. Brazilian government has made a commitment to make more than 48,000 rooms available for Olympics. This calls for a great deal of investment given the present hotel infrastructure. The Ministry of tourism is expected to invest more than $140 million in the hospitality industry.
The government has since acknowledged its infrastructural inadequacy and has since initiated gap analysis to make a more comprehensive approach to mass transit. The government is soliciting bids to erect monorail that is expected to be of great benefit to fans attending soccer tournaments and businessmen since it has realized that infrastructural inadequacy could be a terrible bottleneck to the achievement of the aims of the government hosting the world cup (Morgan Stanley Research, 2010).
Seven Brazilian harbors have been identified for expansion to accommodate cruise ships turned into hotels. The Manaus harbor’s capacity is expected to be doubled and fitted with two floating piers that can house six cruise ships. Having such vessels in place will increase the city’s bed space to 12,000 in the run up to the World Cup. Specific projects have been presented for authorities at Salvador, Recife, Natal, Mucuripe, Santos, and Rio de Janeiro (Embassy of Denmark, 2010).
A total of USD 375 million will be sunk into expansion of harbors (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). However, at current valuation, the Brazilian Real is considered expensive for overseas travelers. To spur growth in investment in the hospitality industry, the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES has opened a line of credit with attractive interest rates and terms to Brazilian firms in the hospitality sector (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). The monies are to be used in renovation and expansion of the hotel supply. The funds are also to be used in financing construction, reform, expansion, and modernization of hotels in order to increase the capacity and equality of accommodation for the 2014 World Cup. The program funds tourism projects in the whole country to support the 12 host cities (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). They have special financing conditions for hotel projects certified for sustainability.
Some of the operators in the Brazilian hospitality industry include Accor, Atlantica, and Sol Melia. Accor is the main international operator and is also the second largest hotel chain globally. It operates in 144 outlets throughout Brazil with 22, 809 rooms. The brands under Accor are Ibis, Sofitel, Formule 1, Merure, Novotel, among others. Accor intends to build 85 new hotels in Brazil in the period up to 2015 (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). This will increase the number of hotel rooms it has by 5000. This will be achieved through expansion of their 20 Formule 1 and Ibis hotels. The hotel chain is also remodeling 31 of its 65 Mecure hotels and 8 of its 51 Ibis hotels. These will cater for economy class tourists. Atlantica currently operates 72 hotels in Brazil (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). It is planning to build 28 more hotels. Sol Melia is a Spanish hotel chain that currently owns 24 hotels in Brazil; nine are in Sao Paolo, three in Brasilia, and two in Reis. They have not announced their expansion plans. Grand Hyatt Sao Paolo is a five-star hotel in Sao Paolo that has 466 rooms and suites (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). They are focusing their expansion on under-penetrated market in Brazil. Hilton has two hotels and Resorts. One is in Sao Paolo and another in Belem. The chain is intending to open up in Salvador. Marriott International chain of hotels has two hotels in Sao Paolo, one in Rio, and Marriott Executive Apartments in Sao Paolo which has 114 apartments (Embassy of Denmark, 2010).
Blue Tree hotels have 22 hotels and resorts. It has 9 hotels in Sao Paolo, one each in Recife, Porto Alegre, Florianopolis, Curitiba, Joinville, and Brasilia. It also owns the beach resort Blue Tree Park Cabo de Santo Agostinho in Parnambucho, beach and mountain resort Blue Tree Park Angra dos Reis in Rio, and the Blue Tree Park Brasilia (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). The Hoteis Othon group offers more than 5,000 rooms in more than 40 properties. The Intercontinental Group operates 12 hotels across Brazil including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Staybridge Suites. The group is planning to build two Holiday Inn hotels and four new Holiday Inn Express hotels (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). The Brazil Hospitality Group manages 31 hotels in large urban centers. The Orient Express units are Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro and Hotel Cataratas in Iguazi Falls. Pestana operates seven hotels in Brazil (Embassy of Denmark, 2010). It manages nine hotels in six of the 12 World Cup2014 host cities. Rio Atlantica Hotel and Angra Hotel are some of the units it owns (Embassy of Denmark, 2010).
Brazil has economic classes and this significantly affects the domestic demand for hotels fostering the development in new hotels and the occupancy on the whole. Brazil’s middle class has reached 50% of the total population. Consumers have more disposable income to spend on leisure time as travels. This trend is expected to continue over time. By 2014, the middle class are expected to represent 60% of the total population. This falling in class AB spends more money in leisure time than the middle class (Paula R., 2013). This spurs the demand for luxury hotel affecting positively the domestic demand in the hotel industry. Brazil is blessed with massive natural resources to be exploited. The economic development in the country is driving to a significant business demand in the Hotel Market from Brazilian people. The tendency is reinforced by the important foreign investment in the country. Business travels are organized to manage investments in Brazil by international firms. These firms have to stay in the country during some days to manage the investment. This increases hotel occupancy. Because of improved capacity and technology the Brazilian airspace is connected to the rest of the world. Major airlines operate in its myriad international airports. A financial indicator used in the hotel industry is Average Daily Rate (ADR).
The ADR measures how well a given hotel performs compared to its competitors and itself. The ADR increases gradually raising the revenue generated by a hotel. It is not healthy to use this indicator to describe the financial health of a hotel as it never takes into consideration the occupancy. Another performance indicator used is Revenue per Available Room. This performance metric is calculated by dividing a hotel’s total guestroom revenue by the room count and the number of days in the period being measured (Mignonac, 2012). The metric can also be calculated by multiplying a hotel’s average daily room rate by its occupancy rate. The Revenue per Available room growth in Brazil continuously increases over time due t high economic growth in the hotel sector. In 2010, Brazil recorded revenue per available room growth of 17.3 per cent. The booming domestic and international travel demand continues to drive up occupancy and average daily rates. The rise in ADR is outpacing Brazil’s GDP growth (Mignonac, 2012). This is a clear sign that the sector is recovering. This has transformed the Brazilian Hotel investment into an attractive market. The hotel industry faces management challenges. Rampant corruption in Brazil forces investors to find managers who can work better in this environment. The country also lacks skilled developers with enough experience and ability to manage massive development strategies in the hotel industry. Another limitation in new hotel development in Brazil is the relatively low ADR level (Mignonac, 2012).
Despite the fact that there have been previous indication in ADR increase, its level still remains low compared to other major lodging markets. The low ADR is attributed to high building pace of condominium hotel projects in the late 1990’s (Mignonac, 2012). Land price is also an issue for the investors in the hospitality industry in Brazil. The cost of land in urban centers is very high. This is an impediment to investors because hotels do not generate enough returns to meet investors’ expectations. Developers are often faced with the challenge of lack of suitable land for hotel development. This drives up urban the price of land parcels (Selvanayagam R., 2013). The situation is likely to persist with the growth in occupancy rate or continued increase of the ADR rate (Mignonac, 2012). The hotel stock in Brazil is getting old. In fact, the average age of any hotel in Brazil is 30 years. This calls for upgrading. There is a lodging shortfall of approximately 62000 rooms in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup (Mignonac, 2012). The hotel industry in Brazil therefore requires repositioning and redevelopment. Generally, the hotel industry shows good prospects and a long-term investor in the hotel sector stands to reap a lot from the 2014 World Cup. However, some pertinent issues that have to be first of all addressed are lack of transparency, weak brand recognition of hotel brands, and low marketing initiatives from hotel brands. With regard to infrastructure development, the government has to ensure that it addresses the underinvestment rate in their infrastructure especially in the road and railway sector. Brazil invests a paltry 0.1% of its GDP in improving their transportation. The World Bank Growth Commission has recommended that the Brazilian government invest 7% of its GDP in infrastructural development in order to reach its potential economic growth.
The upcoming World Cup and opening of new hotels in major cities is likely to cause fluctuation in occupancy rates. Seasonal peaks protract demand pressures and allow new rounds of price increases above inflation. Occupancy rates in midscale and upscale categories are always lower compared to the economy category. This is likely to increase in the run up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. There will be accentuated increase in room rates (Hotel Invest, 2012). This will widen the gap between the prices of midscale and upscale categories and those of economy hotels. The number of developments planned is on the rise considering the recent activities of investors and incorporators in the recent past. The volume of investments forecast in the hospitality industry has markedly increased. Projects are being considered from the north to the south. To allay fears of shoddy work, Manual of Hotel Best-Practice that consolidates recommendations on how to structure hospitality ventures in a professional manner has been launched (Hotel Invest, 2012). The manual is an input of relevant professionals in the tourism and real estate and the main players in hospitality. The increase in upscale markets demand after the opening of the Windsor Atlantica Hotel shows that the economy is heating up in the City of Rio de Janeiro. There are instances when those interested in visiting certain cities and staying in upscale hotels end up cancelling their visits to such cities due to lack of availability during the period in which they wish to travel (Hotel Invest, 2012).
As the reality of a surge in tourists expected to grace the 2014 World Cup sinks in home owners have started renting out their houses for accommodation purposes. Meanwhile organizers from FIFA and tournament sponsors have started making mass hotel bookings for next summer (Cha, 2013). Private home owners have also taken the cue and are renting out apartments for the World Cup period. This has been prompted by a perception that a large number of travelers will have to look for alternative accommodations like private homes, bed and breakfast, and hostels. A four room penthouse in neighborhoods like Ipanema is asking $150,000 for one month’s rental (Luana Cavalcanti, 2013). A studio in places like Copacabana is projected to be rented out at $7,000 for four weeks. Villas are using the deposit from already made bookings for next summer to renovate houses for more such rentals. The hotel industry in Brazil is putting a brave face even as the onslaught on the local hotel industry’s ability to handle massive numbers of tourists continues (Cha, 2013).
Zimbalist (2013) questioned Brazil’s has the ability to build massive infrastructure that comes with hosting tournaments of the magnitude of the World Cup. His perspective is informed by the government’s resolve to trample homes and uproot communities of the poor in some inconveniently favelas. Security of Rio de Janeiro is something that baffles him considering the economy of the Rio slum dwellers is controlled by violent dug gangs and that the crime rate in Rio ranks highest in the world. The government in its concerted effort to put up the requisite infrastructure required to host the 2014 World Cup has made an undertaking to relocate more than 1.5 million Brazilians before 2014. Zimbalast avers that Brazil has to accelerate its economy past the post 1994 economic boom. This will catapult Brazil from an emerging market economy to a developed economy. This would enable the government to comfortably foot the $1 trillion public works spending that has been earmarked for renovations and construction of 2012 stadia and massive overhaul of national transportation infrastructure (Rhoads, 2010). Zimbalist reckons that the government seems not to appreciate the massive number of tourists that will come to Brazil during the World Cup. He reckons that the FIFA does not take into account capital costs like the costs of erecting stadiums, the costs of building Olympic Villages, costs of putting up media centre, and infrastructural costs. This, he laments, may leave the government on its knees. Going with the previous trends the government by investing in the necessary infrastructure may be considered to be digging its own grave. Brazil’s projected budget for hosting the 2014 World Cup will be an excess of $13.3 billion. Going by the recent games, the World Cup generates $3.5 billion in revenue with most of these monies going to FIFA. This shows that the World Cup will be a net loss to Brazil unless the government makes up the difference with increased income from tourism and investment during the games.
Fast forward to the events that unfolded during the Confederations Cup, out of the six Confederations Cup Stadia, only two were delivered within the initially agreed timings. The FIFA’s Local Organizing Committee lists transport as the biggest area of concern because it will remain untested bearing in mind that the majority of funs who graced the Confederations Cup were the Brazilian residents. Airport arrivals, transportation, and access for the funs still remain a major concern for the Local Organizing Committee (Bowater, 2013). Disputes and delays to the new light rail vehicle system in host cities like Cuiaba and the abandonment and realignment of mobility projects in the north eastern settlement due to shortage of time is certainly a big blow to the hotel industry which heavily relies on the transport infrastructure. The Brazilian Association of Hotel Industries has pointed out that there is a shortage of hotels in Rio de Janeiro and Recife. Another concern, if sentiments from Rio’s Hotel Gloria are to be considered is that, hotel reservations are falling well behind in the build up to the 2014 World Cup (Bowater, 2013). The Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova’s roof collapsed when it was just about to host the Confederations Cup. There were also other challenges in Fortaleza during the Confederations Cup with the ticket collections. The printing problems prevented some funs from receiving their tickets. Funs had to be given handwritten notes of assurance from Craig David of FIFA’s ticketing company MATCH. This was a pointer that Brazil is not very ready to host a tournament of the magnitude of the World Cup. This has exposed Brazil’s fragility in hosting very important events (FAM International, 2013).
The social turmoil that characterized the Confederations Cup is more likely to impact the number of visitors to Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. As authorities strive to put in place the much needed infrastructure the restive population vented its anger on the political class’s failure to deliver adequate public services and to root out endemic corruption. The government appeared to have anticipated the social turmoil and consequently planned tough security measures to deal with the rowdy fans, organized crime, and prevent terror attack. The social unrests were provoked by rampant corruption and the government apparent lavish spending on sports stadia rather than investing in social and economic initiatives like health, education, and public transport. Confederations Cup was a kind of a parameter to gauge Brazil’s ability to host 2014 World Cup. The world was treated to the less idyllic image of this continent-sized country of over 194 million people with live coverage of scenes of urban guerilla warfare including violent clashes between stone throwing radicals and riot police responding with tear gas and rubber bullets. There are possibilities that such ugly scenes are likely to play out even during the 2014 World Cup. Tourists planning to visit Brazil are likely to change their minds and this may cut the number of foreign funs expected to grace the world cup. The projected number stands at 600, 000. This would be 30 times more the figures that were recorded during the Confederations Cup. Hotels in Brazil are notorious for charging exorbitant rates and poor service delivery. The unrest that was witnessed during the Confederations Cup is already sending shock waves to the tourism industry. Hotels in Rio de Janeiro had a 275 cancellation rate during the Confederations Cup according to the Brazilian Industry and Hotels Association (ABIH). The protests that degenerated into violence negatively impacted the image of Brazil. The most important thing to do now is to try to impress on the general population the benefits of World Cup to the tourism industry and the country in general. The biggest headache to the hospitality industry is transport. Many airports are aging and are not equipped to handle domestic air traffic that has soared in the past decade. Roads are in sorry state. Passenger train services are also non-existent (The News International, 2013).
Airports in Porto Alegre are undergoing renovations in readiness for the 2014 World Cup. The airport runway is currently undergoing extension. This is coupled with the duplication of the BR-116 and the revitalization of the Cais Maua. The Novotel Airport average daily rate is expected to accelerate due to existent of demand pressure. Occupancy in middle scale hotels in Porto Alegre are more likely to be affected by the rise of new hotels in this city. This is expected to increase the rates. The economy category is also likely to register increase in occupancy and significant increment in average daily rates. In Belo Horizonte, the City Hall is giving out incentives for the development of new undertakings. As a result, approximately 35 new hotel projects are currently ongoing. If all these become fully operational, the number of hotel rooms in Belo Horizonte will have doubled by 2014 (Hotel Invest, 2012).
The Brazilian government, during the FIFA Confederations Cup made a commitment to intervene and monitor daily hotel rates. The government took this initiative to make sure that the hotels do not take advantage of the event to increase prices to inhibitive levels to tourists. The tourism ministry said that such a measure was taken when Brazil hosted Rio+20 Summit and it worked (Tavener, 2013). He made an assurance that such an initiative would surely work during the Confederations Cup and even during the FIFA 2014 World Cup. The government, hotel owners, industry members, and the Brazilian Tourist Board collaborated and ensured that daily hotel rates were regulated. In an attempt to avoid imposing punitive actions against rogue industry players, the government held talks with hotel owners and other industry representatives. In the run up to the Confederations Cup, the government also attempted to contend with the airline ticket prices by making sure that airlines offer more seats (Tavener, 2013).
A permanent committee was created to develop effective legislation to improve tourism in the country which is deemed too expensive. A consulting firm-Mise En Place has since been launched in Rio to help the hotel industry prepare for the demands of hosting events of the magnitude of the World Cup in terms of developing new properties and improving existing operations to meet international service standards. The Rio+20 Summit was considered as a test run for the upcoming big events. Hosting it allowed the government to single out areas that might fall short of visitors’ expectations. The Confederations Cup also allowed the government to iron out remaining problems that could negatively impact the success of the 2014 World Cup.
There have been fears that some Hotels listed on the Fifa’s website for the 2014 World Cup have been planning to hike their prices during the tournament. Such concerns have prompted the Brazilian Tourism Board to notify the justice ministry after its research pointed out that rates will be up to 500% more expensive during the 2014 World Cup festivities. Concerns have been raised by the board with regard to the rates which could harm the rights of the potential consumers (Associated Press, 2013). A Swiss-based company MATCH does the contracting and delivery of accommodation to FIFA including its officials, delegates, and staff. MATCH sells rooms to FIFA commercial affiliates, the media, and the customer of the official hospitality program (Associated Press, 2013). Rooms are offered to the public through the FIFA’s website operated and maintained by MATCH. According to the Board, the host cities with the smallest increase in rates are Recife and Sao Paulo with hikes of about 100% on average. During the UN’s Roi+20 Summit, the hotel sector took advantage of the spike in demand to charge exorbitant rates. The average cost of a hotel room in Rio during the Summit rose to nearly $800 a night. This prompted a barrage of criticisms from the conference delegates (Associated Press, 2013).
Visitors boarding the Hotels on FIFA’s website run and developed by MATCH have to stay for a minimum of two nights. The Board is specifically concerned about the higher prices because it might impact Brazil’s tourism industry negatively in the long run.
Meanwhile the Brazilian government has embarked on international promotion of the FIFA World Cup, labor force training, and improvement of public tourist attractions and incentives to the hotel industry to enhance the industry’s capacity to handle the 2014 World Cup. Some of the professional training programs that the Tourism Ministry now offers include Hello Tourist which is earmarked to receive investment of U.S.$7.7 million. The program is expected to make cost free English and Spanish lessons available to approximately 80,000 workers in the hotel industry. By 2014, the tourism ministry will have used U.S.$242 million in training over 306,000 workers (Associated Press, 2013). This training will help these workers to welcome tourists in a friendly way. Such investment initiatives are expected to generate a sustained expansion in tourism flow in Brazil. Up to when the World Cup will be officially opened, the government and the private sector shall have spent a staggering U.S.$85.6 billion.
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