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World Cup Tourists Turn To Airbnb To Rent Rooms In Rio’s Slum Neighborhoods

by Carlos E. Castañeda
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A general view of the Rocinha favela as the England team visit Complexo Esportivo da Rocinha on June 9, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

A general view of the Rocinha favela on June 9, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Thousands of tourists attending the World Cup in Brazil priced out of scarce hotel rooms are turning to online room-sharing service Airbnb to rent out rooms in some of Rio de Janeiro’s vast slum neighborhoods known as favelas.

A search for rooms in Rocinha, Rio’s largest favela on Airbnb, results in nearly 200 listings for rooms offering at least a two-week stay for less than $100 a night – with some less than $50 a night – a fraction of what mainstream hotels are charging World Cup visitors.

It’s estimated some 600,000 visitors will descend on Rio for the month-long soccer tournament, which is spread out among a number of Brazilian cities.

With only 55,400 hotel beds available in Rio, the huge demand is prompting local entrepreneurs to rent out their dwellings located in the city’s notoriously crime-ridden and crowded shantytowns.

Brazilian authorities have in recent years have cracked down on drug gangs and increased patrols in the favelas.

The marketing of favela stays for tourists has increased in conjunction with the number of so-called ‘pacification’ efforts in the neighborhoods. Companies such as favelaexperience.com offer the immersive culture and adventure of favela stays, with a mission statement claiming “we increase the incomes of our favela hosts and favela tour operators while improving the world’s perception of favelas.”

San Francisco-based Airbnb expects more than 50,000 people will use its services to find accommodations during the World Cup, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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