SAO PAULO (AP) — The Brazilian government is outlining actions to improve the quality of services available to the nearly 600,000 international visitors and 3 million local tourists expected during next year's World Cup.
A committee with members of several government areas has been meeting regularly to debate strategies to improve the country's ability to host the visitors.
Some measures have already been agreed upon, including the creation and renovation of more than 100 stations to attend to tourists in the 12 host cities.
The government's efforts come in addition to its ongoing fight against high prices in hotels and the airline sector during the tournament.
"How we welcome these tourists will determine the image that they will take away from the country," tourism ministry official Izabel Barnasque said in a statement.
Home to Carnival, pristine beaches, notorious wetlands and the Amazon rain forest, Brazil is used to welcoming tourists all year long, but the World Cup will attract an unprecedented number of visitors from all over the world. FIFA said football fans from more than 200 countries have applied for tickets for a tournament that begins next June. After Brazilians, most of the ticket requests came from Americans, Argentines and Germans.
The group created by the government has already held meetings in Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo and Brasilia. It is expected to meet in all other host cities by the end of the year, when it will present a report of its findings to the government. The group is also using the visits to monitor the quality of services currently available in the cities.
After a meeting in Brasilia on Thursday, the tourism ministry said it is investing about $16 million in the 105 new tourist centers, which are aimed at providing support to the visitors.
The ministry also said that Brazil's health surveillance agency and the country's association of bars and restaurants will work to categorize the establishments based on their sanitary conditions. The restaurants are also being instructed to have their menus translated into different languages.
Also Thursday, the government held separate meetings with members of the airline industry to discuss the creation of new routes to attend to the increased demand of passengers expected during the World Cup. The new routes are expected to be finalized in January. Brazil is a huge country and currently there aren't directly flights between many of the cities that will host the 64 World Cup matches next year.
The Brazilian government last month created a committee to monitor price hikes of hotel rates and plane tickets after complaints by consumer advocates and amid reports of outrageous price increases in the tourism sector during the monthlong tournament in 2014. The committee is also in charge of monitoring the quality of services in hotels, airports and restaurants.
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