Price gouging, random violence blight run-up to Brazil World Cup

SAO PAULO, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Price gouging by service providers and random street violence are two emerging threats Brazilian authorities must deal with before next year's FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics in 2016, published data indicates.

Airlines taking bookings for travel within Brazil by World Cup visitors were taken to task by consumer groups. Present and prospective tourists also received warnings to be wary of urban violence.


Clashes involving anti-government protesters and law enforcement agents claimed up to five lives a day last year, O Globo newspaper reported, citing data from a new survey.

Deaths and injuries in street crime, another frequent feature of Brazilian urban scene, were not included in the survey.

Sao Paulo will host the opening events in next year's FIFA World Cup. Reports from consumer pressure groups, citizens' lobby groups, lawmakers and police have combined to present a worrying picture of Brazil as it prepares for the World Cup and the Summer Olympics less than two years later, analysts said.

Consumer watchdog Procon's Rio do Janeiro branch named five airlines it said were subjecting future passengers to "abuse" by charging exorbitant prices for domestic fares during the World Cup next year.


The group named Avianca, Azul, Gol, Oceanair and TAM as the alleged offenders. None of the airlines could be reached for comment on the consumer group's report they inflated ticket prices up to ten-fold for the June 12-July 13 tournament.

Consumer groups are unhappy that many sport tourists will likely be visiting Brazil for the first time and will go back to their native lands with a poor impression of Brazil just on the basis of high prices, not counting other experiences that could also go wrong.

Procon urged airlines to revert to "normal" pricing of tickets. It accused the country's aviation industry regulator, the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil, of failing to perform its role with price management.

A Brazilian government inter-ministerial working group, set up to monitor the prices of airline tickets, hotels and restaurants, has also faced criticism for being ineffective or slow to act.

Brazil is expecting about 600,000 foreign visitors for the World Cup. An estimated 3 million people are likely to visit World Cup events to be played in 12 stadiums. Critics say Brazilian infrastructure, including airport services, will have difficulty coping with those numbers.

Government projections the World Cup may inject more than $11 billion in Brazilian economy have come as a potential boost, as Brazil acknowledged a primary budget deficit of more than 9 trillion reals or about $4 billion in September. It is the biggest deficit reported in nearly five years, official data showed, putting Brazil's sovereign ratings at risk.


Finance Minister Guido Mantega said more cuts in government spending would be needed to balance the budget.

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