The Brazilian government has expressed its concern that some hotels listed on FIFA’s website for the 2014 World Cup plan significant price increases during the tournament, according to the Associated Press.
Brazil’s tourism board, Embratur, is said to have notified the justice ministry after its research showed that rates will be up to 500% more expensive during the World Cup in some hotels offered by the MATCH Services agency on FIFA’s website. MATCH is the company appointed by FIFA to provide accommodation, ticketing and event IT services during the World Cup. Embratur said in a statement: “It’s probable that MATCH is exercising intermediation fees that are a lot higher than usually exercised in the tourism market, harming the rights of potential consumers.”
Embratur’s study compared prices across several dozen hotels in the World Cup’s 12 host cities. Of the 65 hotels listed in the study’s results 22 increased prices more than 200%, with six offering rates at least 300% higher. The biggest increase was found in the city of Salvador, where a hotel will charge US$509 per night during the World Cup, a 583% increase compared to the $75 it charged last month. Embratur said it is seeking to negotiate better prices in part because it fears excessive prices during the World Cup may harm Brazil’s tourism industry on a long-term basis. “Raises without limits may satisfy the profit expectations of some, but they are bad for the sustainability of the business,” said Embratur president Flavio Dino. “We are hosting these mega events in Brazil to help increase the flux of tourists in the country in the long run. The government will do everything possible to protect the image of the country and of the industry itself.”
MATCH has strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying that “it is incorrect to suggest” that the hotels it signed a contract with in Brazil are overcharging. A MATCH statement read: “The rates secured by MATCH Services from its partner hotels and those it offers to its customers are in the vast majority of cases reasonable and compare well to rates available outside of the FIFA World Cup. (Hotels are) acting in a fair and reasonable manner taking into account the market forces and the investment made by them. These prices are dictated by the prices MATCH Services have been able to secure from the hotels. They are not the product of an abuse of a dominant position held by MATCH Services, but rather the fact that the Brazilian hotel industry by tradition over many decades has enjoyed high yields per room night during major events, whether it is a major conference, Carnival, New Year or Formula One racing.”