PHOTO: Rio de Janeiro is home to Brazil's largest Carnival celebration. (Photo via Flickr/Leandro Neumann Ciuffo)
Global revellers are getting ready to live life excessively as they head into hedonistic Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) celebrations this weekend. In Brazil, the Mardi Gras-style celebration known as Carnival kicked off yesterday and will remain in full force until late in the day on Tuesday.
Many cities in Brazil, which is dealing with the worst economic crisis in decades, have opted to cancel the annual celebration in order to redirect those monies back into city services. But for Brazil’s powerhouse Carnival locations, such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador, the show must go on.
And when it does, it could mean big bucks for the economy, according to a report by economist Fabio Bente of Brazil’s National Confederation of Trade in Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC.) In total, Carnival is expected to inject 5.8 billion reals or $1.8 (USD) into the economy. And most of that income will come from tourism.
Food and beverage at restaurants and bars will account for more than half (58 percent) of the revenue, followed by income generated by hotels and transportation. Rio de Janeiro would be the biggest beneficiary, with local Carnival celebrations expected to generate some $770 million. In second place, Sao Paulo could generate nearly $500 million in tourism receipts during Carnival, according to a report in the Rio Times.
More good news for Brazil, Worldpay, a global payments company, is reporting that online travel agents and marketplaces have seen a huge increase (63 percent) in domestic bookings at Carnival destinations this year. What’s more says Worldpay, Brazilians are spending nearly 55 percent more per booking than they did a year ago.
“This year’s Carnival fever is well and truly underway, with millions of people planning their getaways to Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Sao Paulo and Olinda for their famous celebrations,” said Juan D’Antiochia, General Manager, Latin America at Worldpay. “The Ministry of Tourism has already predicted a 6 percent increase in inbound tourism over the coming year, thanks to the Olympic legacy. However, our data suggests that there will be an increasing number of domestic tourists too.”
But, cautions Bente, the news is not all rosy. The projected revenue from Carnival will be about 5.7 percent lower than last year, and this year will likely be the worst performance for Carnival in three years.
“Despite the recent trend of lower price changes for typical services at this time of year, the real decline in income has imposed the need for frequent adjustments in the household budget through the postponement of non-essential expenses, such as leisure,” said Bente at a press conference.
Brazil’s economic crisis could push some 3.6 million Brazilians below the poverty line, according to recent data released by the World Bank.