Brazil to monitor World Cup prices

BrazilAbusive price hikes of hotel rates and plane tickets during next year's World Cup will be monitored by a committee created by the Brazilian government.

The group composed of members of different ministries was formed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff yesterday.

The move comes after complaints by consumer advocates and amid reports of outrageous price increases in the tourism sector during the month-long tournament in 2014.

A study by Brazil's tourism board this year showed that rates will rise up to 500% during the World Cup in some hotels offered by the FIFA-appointed agency MATCH Services.

Last week, the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, Brazil's largest, reported that a 45-minute flight from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo on the day of the World Cup final could cost almost as much as a flight to New York or Paris.

The price of plane tickets is a concern as flying will be the main option for the nearly 600,000 foreigners and the expected three million local visitors who will move around the continent-sized country during the tournament that begins next June.

The group's first meeting is scheduled for next week.

"We don't set prices and we won't set prices, but we won't allow abuses," said Gleisi Hoffmann, Ms Rousseff's chief of staff.

"We will use all of our available instruments to defend the rights of consumers, whether they are Brazilian consumers or international consumers."

Brazil sports minister Aldo Rebelo this year pledged "zero tolerance" for hotels that charge abusive prices during the World Cup.

He said significant hikes during the showcase event would hurt Brazil's image abroad and threaten to scare tourists away.

The minister warned at the time that hotels that raised prices excessively would feel the "heavy hand" of the law, adding that consequences included possible hotel closures.