Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Brazil claims 'victory' in World Cup

By Talia Marcopoto, CNN
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1931 GMT (0331 HKT)
Many of the approximately 1 million foreign tourists who descended on Brazil took in the sights, as well as the World Cup matches. Many of the approximately 1 million foreign tourists who descended on Brazil took in the sights, as well as the World Cup matches.
HIDE CAPTION
World Cup tourism
All in all, a pretty good trip
Pre-Germany, the shots were easy
Memorable mug
World Cup not for everyone
River of controversy
Football and forests
Next up, Summer Olympics
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Germany? Who's Germany?
  • Brazilian government calls World Cup a big success for the country's travel and tourism industries
  • One million tourists from abroad visited Brazil during the event
  • Economist doubts long-term positive economic impact of the World Cup

(CNN) -- Brazil's national football team may have been smoked on the pitch by Germany, but now government officials are claiming a 2014 FIFA World Cup victory of another sort.

According to figures released this week by Brazil's federal government, the World Cup was a triumph for the country's transportation and tourism industries.

"We lost the trophy, but Brazil won the World Cup," said Aloisio Mercadante, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff's chief of staff, in a statement.

"Brazil showed that they know how to win, lose, host and celebrate peace with respect and a 'make yourself at home' atmosphere that won the world over."

According to government figures, 1 million foreign tourists visited Brazil during the month-long event, far exceeding its pre-Cup projection of 600,000 visitors coming to the country from abroad.

About 3 million Brazilians traveled around the country during the event, just short of the expected 3.1 million.

Additionally, according to the government, of the million foreign visitors, "95% of them said they intend to return."

"We were saying that we would host the World Cup of World Cups," said President Rousseff in a statement. "Indeed, we staged the World Cup of World Cups.

"We had one problem, our match against Germany. However ... we beat the pessimistic predictions and hosted the World Cup of World Cups with the immense and wonderful contribution of our people."

German visitors had a great time. But will they be back?
German visitors had a great time. But will they be back?

Not everyone on board

The government's assessment of the World Cup's impact on travel was significantly more enthusiastic than a report last week in the Wall Street Journal that called the event "a bust for Brazil's domestic travel industry."

Citing figures from the Brazilian Airline Association, that story projected total air travel in Brazil falling 11% to 15% during the World Cup compared with the same period in 2013. The story blamed hiked-up prices and large crowds for scaring off domestic tourists.

Economists who study the impact of large sporting and other events on local and national economies tend to be less sanguine than the governments that host them.

"Every time you get a World Cup tourist you get one less regular tourist," Dr. Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist and economics professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, tells CNN.

"Generally speaking, the World Cup does not benefit the host's tourism industry."

Zimbalist says it's doubtful Brazil's international tourism profile will experience long-term positive impact as a result of the World Cup.

He points to heightened media coverage around the event that focused on "unsavory conditions" facing the country, such as violence, poverty, pollution and social unrest, as illustrated by public demonstrations against the huge amounts of public funds spent on new infrastructure.

Furthermore, he said, the World Cup won't provide sustained promotion for the smaller of the event's 12 host cities.

The Amazonas city of Manaus is an example.

Zimbalist cited public money spent on a stadium that will eventually become underutilized. Rather than inspire coverage of the beauty of the surrounding Amazon, media reports tended to focus on the new facility and the conflict that surrounded its construction.

"It's very hard to see how that's going to promote tourism in Manaus," says Zimbalist.

More where that came from

Turning mega-sporting events such as the World Cup and Olympics into proxy tourism campaigns remains an uncertain enterprise.

Some cities continue to reap the benefits of hosting.

Barcelona has seen a tenfold increase in tourist numbers since it hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Meanwhile, a decade after hosting the 2004 summer games, Olympic venues in Athens have become decaying ghost towns.

For now, it's unlikely there will be enough time to assess the long-term economic impact of the World Cup on Brazil's economy in advance of the country's next huge event -- the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Keep track of the social buzz at Brazil 2014 with CNN's Facebook Pulse -- find out who the world is talking about.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
It needed 120 minutes to separate the best two teams on the planet, but Mario Gotze's sublime strike gives Germany a fourth World Cup title.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
After 64 games, some huge shocks and 171 goals scored, now it's time to play fantasy football -- who would you pick in a World Cup dream team?
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1055 GMT (1855 HKT)
Germany won the World Cup, but these stats suggest that the host nation came top of the table at Brazil 2014 -- despite a crushing semifinal defeat.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
Bare bellies, an on-pitch streaker, world leaders and superstar selfies -- the World Cup final had it all.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1132 GMT (1932 HKT)
Having crushed home hopes of success, Germany prevents Brazil's worst nightmare by beating the World Cup host's South American rival in final.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
One of the joys of watching the World Cup is seeing relative unknowns come to the fore. Here are 11 players to watch at Russia 2018.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 0937 GMT (1737 HKT)
Stay informed with results of the latest World Cup matches and the full schedule for the month-long tournament in Brazil.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
In the sight of Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer, the man who would be king awaits his destiny.
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Germany's semifinal demolition of World Cup host Brazil in Belo Horizonte is the game that seemingly everyone can't stop talking about.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
One of the joys of the World Cup is seeing relative unknowns come to the fore. Here are 11 players who have made their mark at Brazil 2014:
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
You thought Brazil's home humiliation was bad? Check out the greatest shocks in World Cup history...
ADVERTISEMENT