Problem Of the Day: Rio's Hotel Shortage

As the city prepares to host a number of global events, it still lacks the hotel space to meet the demand.

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Reuters

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro next month is expected to be the largest UN event ever held. That's good news for getting people – roughly 50,000 of them – involved in the program, dubbed Rio+20, which is aimed at developing a global strategy for green development in the face of climate change. The massive participation may be bad news though for many of the attendees who won't have place to sleep.

The Associated Press estimates that there are about 33,000 hotel beds in Rio, which is far short of what's needed to accommodate the roughly 50,000 visitors expected to attend the event.

All that demand has driven up prices in hotels across the city, with some hoteliers charging upwards of $800 per night. And some had instituted a rule requiring week-long reservations, even though most delegates and officials would only need a few nights during the event's main sessions between June 20 and 22. These huge costs have prompted many officials to cancel plans to attend with the European Parliament's entire 11-person delegation pulling out due to the high costs.

But the pricing could be reined in, at least a little bit. According to the BBC, the government has struck a deal with local hoteliers to reduce those prices by about 25 percent. That slight reduction may be coming too late for groups that have already canceled their plans to attend.

The lack of hotel space is a problem that could get even worse. Rio will be one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and two years later, the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. According to the AP report, more than 80,000 people are expected to visit the city for the World Cup, and nearly 200,000 for the Olympics.

The city is planning to build about 17,000 more hotel rooms by 2016, bringing the total above 50,000 – about the same amount that's needed next month.

Photo credit: Sergio Moraes / Reuters

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.