An estimated 1 million foreign travelers are expected to visit Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Aug.5- 21, according to Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism. The crowds will mean long lines and wait times, but planning can make all the difference for business travelers headed to the region, advises Paul Barry, BCD’s Brazil country manager. Here, he offers a few tips for smooth travels to his adopted city.
- Getting to Brazil. New security procedures at all domestic and international airports can slow the flow through the airport by more than two hours. The long lines will be at their worst in the days before the Summer Olympic Games begin and the day after the closing ceremony. Arrive after the opening ceremony—and leave a couple of days after the games close—to reduce wait times and costs. Many multinational companies have restricted business travel to Rio during the Olympics because air and hotel rates are so inflated.
- Visa requirements. Visitors from many Latin American and European countries don’t need a visa to enter Brazil. In conjunction with the games, the country also has temporarily waived its standard visa fees and requirements for travelers from Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States until Sept. 18, 2016.
- Hotel availability. If you haven’t already booked a room, it may be too late. On Aug. 1, hotel occupancy in Rio was at 93%. And many hotels that do have rooms won’t honor corporate rates because of the high demand. During the games, the average daily rate is expected to be US$553—a price well out of range for most business travelers.
- Smart packing. Leave expensive watches and jewelry at home. Pack a cheap sports watch (or your phone) to track time during your trip. Put a lock on your luggage, but don’t attach an employer badge or other identifiable information.
- Security at the airport. Visitors—and pickpockets—are expected to flood the airports. Keep a watchful eye on your backpack, purse or briefcase.
- Security in the city. Wear low-profile, casual clothing. Keep your passport stored in the hotel safe; replacing a passport can be a cumbersome process in Rio, where consulates are limited.
When going out, bring one form of identification, one credit card and only enough local currency to cover your activities for the day or evening. Be on the lookout for credit card fraud. Most shops and restaurants use handheld point-of-sale machines so transactions are processed in front of customers. Don’t allow anyone to go away with your card, and always ask for a receipt.