- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 20, 2013

SAO PAULO (AP) - Brazil’s tourism board said Tuesday that it has officially told FIFA and hotel operators to negotiate lowering prices during the 2014 World Cup.

The request came just days after a study showed that room rates will be up to 500 percent more expensive during the World Cup in some hotels offered by the FIFA-appointed agency MATCH Services.

The tourism board, known as Embratur, said MATCH and the hotels need to find a way to reverse the “stratospheric increase” of rates announced for the World Cup period next year.

MATCH said it had not yet received the request, but would “welcome any attempt the government would make to help us lower prices and would fully support such initiatives.”

In the document sent to FIFA and the hotel operators, Embratur also said that MATCH should change the current policy on blocking rooms and should reduce its mark-up rates.

“We propose that the companies involved conduct new rounds of negotiations to lead to a restructuring of the prices,” said the document obtained exclusively by The Associated Press. “We reiterate that FIFA/MATCH charges mark-up rates of more than 40 percent on the amount contracted with the hotel, something that contributes decisively to the increase of the already high rates.”

MATCH reached agreement with nearly 800 hotels in Brazil right after the country was picked in 2007 to host next year’s World Cup.

Brazil’s Forum of Hotel Operators said through its press office that it received the Embratur document calling for changes in the World Cup rates. President Roberto Rotter, who is named in the Embratur document, declined to comment.

The tourism board had already notified Brazil’s justice ministry, which is responsible for handling consumer rights issues.

Embratur said it wants to negotiate better prices in part because it’s afraid that excessive rates during the World Cup may hurt Brazil’s tourism in the long run.

“We want to guarantee economic success and a legacy for the country that goes beyond the 2014 World Cup,” it said.

The Embratur study found increases of more than 100 percent were planned at hotels in all 12 host cities. It researched prices announced on booking websites, the hotels’ sites and FIFA’s official webpage.

“As of yet it is totally unclear to MATCH Services on what criteria Embratur has been comparing rates as we have not been consulted in this matter,” MATCH said.

The Swiss-based company said it does not regulate any prices, saying that charges are set “by the hotel owners and other tourism stakeholders.”

“From a contractual perspective, there is nothing to prevent hotels from lowering their room rates to MATCH and MATCH would readily pass on the benefit of any such reductions to its customers,” the company said in a statement. “However, we believe that in the vast majority of cases hotels are already providing room rates for the FIFA World Cup that are in line with the rates they achieve outside premium periods.”

MATCH is primarily responsible for contracting and delivering accommodation for the FIFA community, including its officials, teams, delegates, guests and staff. It also sells rooms to FIFA’s commercial affiliates, the media and customers of the official hospitality program.

Rooms are offered to the general public through the FIFA website operated and maintained by MATCH.

“MATCH is merely providing an option to fans,” it said. “Its main mandate is to cater for the FIFA community.”


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni

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