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Rio de Janeiro braces for massive tourist invasion

August 02, 14:06 UTC+3 RIO DE JANEIRO
Amidst the economic crisis in Brazil, and an increase in the number of unemployed the Olympic Games can be a chance to better the financial situation
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A sand sculpture along the promenade on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro
© AP Photo/David Goldman
People sunbathing at Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 1, 2016
© AP Photo/Felipe Dana
Athletes, officials and volunteers signing a mural in the athletes village in Rio de Janeiro
© AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool

RIO DE JANEIRO, August 2. /TASS/. Just days ahead of the Summer Olympics opening ceremony, the city of Rio de Janeiro is getting ready for a massive inflow of tourists and athletes, which by modest estimates would amount to half a million people.

Local businesses are full of anticipation - "We’re hoping that the weather won’t let us down, people will come to the beach and we will be able to make money," says Lindi Nalvu, owner of a small tent shop, along the Copacabana beach. The tents sell everything from coconut water to souvenirs and food. They also rent out beach chairs and umbrellas. And while the vendors say it isn’t so, locals confirmed that the prices for food and services nearly doubled in the run-up to the Olympics.

According to tourists, official Olympic paraphernalia runs a bit steep, but visitors are still unwilling to leave Brazil without memorable souvenirs.

"We like everything here, but the T-shirts are very expensive. At the same time, we have to understand that these items will be sold for just one month. These are official Olympics souvenirs, so it makes sense that they cost a little more. My wife and I will still buy presents for our grandchildren and friends here," said Mauro Sabadini, tourist from Argentina.

Yet Nick Price, representative of REBL, a company that has exclusive rights to Olympic products, says that everything is being sold at market value. "If the prices were too high, business would be going a lot worse, but in just two weeks of the store opening, we have been very happy with the sales."

Price says tourists are buying the usual things - toys and T-shirts, but what’s also popular are Brazilian flip flops, an item never before sold at Olympic Games.

Amidst the economic crisis in Brazil, and an increase in the number of unemployed (as of the end of June, the figure was 11.6 million people) the Olympic Games can be a chance to better the financial situation. However, experts warn that this effect is most likely short-term and local. "There are two advantages associated with the Olympics. The first can be identified as short-term, and it’s in retail and the service industry where revenue growth will be very significant," Agostinho Selsu Paskaliko, economist and lecturer at Mackenzie Presbyterian University told TASS.

According to him, the second positive result of the Games will be improved city transport infrastructure. However, this effect Paskaliko considers local. "Much has been done for the city, but we are talking about the so-called ‘affluent’ parts of Rio de Janeiro. In poor neighborhoods - in the favelas - nothing has changed, many homes remain without electricity and sanitation, and people do not feel involved in this process.".

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