In preparation for hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup, a 30-day soccer tournament that will travel to 12 host cities in Brazil, as well as the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, major infrastructure improvements are well under way. In a press briefing held last week by Embratur, the Brazilian Tourism Board, director of marketing Walter Vasconcelos noted that 147 new hotels will open in the country in time to host World Cup travelers. Sixteen major global brands will be represented, including Sofitel, Hilton and Marriott. Brazil also has invested US$16.5 billion to build seven new stadiums, expand airports, and enhance transportation and telecommunications, among other improvements. Most of the stadiums that will host the games are equipped with green technology, including seven that use solar power as an energy source.
These sweeping developments will leave a lasting legacy for future group business, said Vasconcelos. In newly released rankings from the International Congress and Convention Association, Brazil is seventh in terms of the number of international conventions it hosts annually. Vasconcelos predicts the country will rise to fifth on the list within the next few years. (See related story, "USA Tops ICCA Rankings; Japan Rejoins List")