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Sport Tourism: Expedition Destination Analysis of Rio De Janeiro

2643 words (11 pages) Essay in Tourism

08/02/20 Tourism Reference this

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This essay will explore Rio De Janeiro. Rio De Janeiro’s is the second largest city in Brazil after Sao Paulo and is the tourism capital of Brazil, it has an estimated 2016 population of 6.45 million. It’s famous for its landscape and beaches. In 2016, Rio was chosen to hold the 2016 Summer Olympics, becoming the first South America City to host the Olympics. Furthermore, they have hosted many of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Games, including the final (Revolvy). In this essay, I will be looking into Rio De Janeiro under the theme of changing space and environmental management.

Theme spaces

To help gain a better understanding of space we can use Henri Lefebvre to do this, he argued the fact that it’s ‘wrong to separate space from human relations. and that space is a product or ourselves, our interactions’, furthermore he believes that people produce space and interact with them. Space becomes place when it acquires symbolic meaning and a concrete definition, marking the whole spectrum of identity and sense of belonging. He put the concept of space into a triad. The first part of the triad model is, ‘Perceived space’, this of which is an area of land which has certain characteristics associated with it. Its bounded space that can easily be mapped. For instance, in this will be the Olympic village or stadium in Rio and taking the approach of looking at it neutrally as a physical collection of things. The Rio Olympic stadium helps bring tourists and athletes together, its where ‘spatial practice’ is carried out. The second part of the triad is ‘Conceived space’. This is the way in which, organizers, and architectures strive to create space and how they think about designing spaces. Van ingen states that, “conceived space are kinds of social spaces that we engage in through our thoughts, ideas, plans, codes and memories”. The final part of the triad is ‘lived space’. On the one hand, we have the concrete reality of things and objects and we also have the emotional side to them, and this affects how we use these spaces and how we attribute meaning towards them. Lived space is about what spaces mean to people, space is said to be seen as the, terrain of social struggle, counter-discourses and resistance. This theory can be applied to Rio Olympics as it in relation to the different countries groups competing for signification. Gregory (1994) and Lefebvre (1991) stated that Lefebvre work has demonstrated the relationship between an abstract, rational conception of space, capitalism, and the industrialization and urbanization of society. Furthermore, Rio brings a lot of localism, for instance they have lots of local family run cafes and the people that live in the surrounding areas have developed an attachment to the certain things such as the cafe. However, due to Rio now being a tourist attraction, tension can arise between the locals and tourists over who has the rights and access to the certain spaces as the local want to protect it so incomer and holiday makers can’t use it. Spaces are designed for specific uses and some people might feel marginalized by the practice of those uses. The locals in Rio have to learn to adapt to the mass number of tourists, the locals will lose their sense of ease within their local spaces due to the numbers and behaviors. This impact of the tourist could lead to the urban dougnut effect, this of which is due to rapid growth in a small local area, therefore leading to an economic crisis. Frictions will arise between different groups in Rio, leading to social and economic issues that will ultimately results in the urban core declining. The locals of Rio will be pushed from the core to the fringes of the city. Bevin’s (2016) states that the city has seen up to 20,000 families relocated as a result of various kinds of redevelopment since the onset of Olympic planning in 2009. Furthermore, the Olympic Games were subject to negative media associated with the displacement of lower socio-economic residents to make way for the development of Olympic facilities including the athlete’s village; actions that triggered violent protests (Watts, 2016). For example, Porto Maravilha, have become popular places for visitors and locals to spend time, with artistic and environmental projects (Duignan and Ivanescu, 2017). However, this has also become a magnet for gentrification, potentially putting up property prices and forcing out people who have lower incomes. Furthermore, as part of the drive to redevelop areas for the Olympics, some estimates suggest that around 77,000 people were evicted from their homes (Mantelli et al, 2015), destroying communities in the process. These were mainly people living in poor conditions.

Christ the Redeemer monument which overlooks Rio is one of the biggest tourist attractions around, it helps protect the urban environment and helps generate income. When people are present here they want to alert others that they are in this space, this fits into pro/retroactive interferences.  Tourists will take pictures and post them online for others to see this of which are retroactive interferences as it is in the past, however before visiting the statue you might do some research online at review sites, or travel blogs this of which is proactive interferences. From this we end up with a division of retroactive and proactive interference, which influence our understanding of the space you are going to visit and engage with before you go away and actually experience it. Therefore, these tourists have experienced and have recorded the attraction in a certain way of how they want to remember that space. Technology meditates out lived experience of space for example it will helps us with our decision making and where we want to go in Rio and what we want to see or eat. Furthermore, it will impact how we behave and understand cross cultural changes and ‘how to behave’ and framing. Foucault believes that we see ourselves as this ‘work of art’ and were always adding to it and touching it up in different ways. We hide the experiences and identity that we don’t like and play up the ones we do.

Figure 1

Environmental Management

The second theme im going to discuss under the example of Rio, is Environmental management. Brundtland Report (1987) states that ‘sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Living within our environmental limits is one of the central principles of sustainable development. One implication of not doing so is climate change. However, it’s not just all about the environment. It’s also about ensuring a strong, healthy and society in Rio. This means meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities, promoting personal wellbeing, social cohesion and inclusion, and creating equal opportunity. Chen & Kuo, (1994) and Ou, (1998) states that tourism developments generally result in misuse or overuse resources that lead to environment damage and fast reduce in resources.

Tourism in Brazil is a growing sector and key to the economy. The country had 6.36 million visitors in 2015, and from this generated US$5.8 billion in 2015 from tourists, however with the mass numbers there comes environmental impact (Revolvy). Due to the increase of tourism in Rio it’s important that the country does not exceed the biophysical carrying capacity. This of which deals with the extent to which the natural environment is able to tolerate interference from tourists. As a result, this could cause damage to the Rio’s habitat’s ability to regenerate. For instance, if we encourage to many visitors to visit the Tijuca Forest National Park in Rio, there will be a breaking point where the soil will not be able to regenerate and allow plants to grow, also affecting the wildlife. However, the carrying capacity depends on the business therefore it’s important that everyone involved is all on the same page and making sensible decisions and not exceeding.

Rio is famous for having numerous natural resources, including beaches, mountains and the largest urban forest in the world, (the Tijuca Forest). However, as these are tourist attraction, building will tend to go on in order to make it more appealing, for instance they might add cafes or hotels in the mountains for the visitors, however before this can be done there needed to be an assessment on the environment and if the ecosystem can cope with it.  A framework that can help support this is the Limits of Acceptable Change model, the process is a means by which planners attempt to preserve naturalness while facilitating public use in federally designated wilderness areas. For instance, Rio Olympics golf course was built in a sensitive coastal area, and environmentalists say it destroyed habitat and harmed native plants and animals, including endangered species.

The Rio 2016 Olympics were expected to provide a number of benefits to Rio, one being the chance to clean the waterways, bays, and beachfront water in and around the city (Rio, 2009). Cleaning the waterways would also improve conditions for athletes competing in the open water events. Additionally, the Rio Olympic Organizing Committee promoted this project as a legacy of the Games, something that would benefit Rio’s residents for years to come (Rio, 2009). One important environmental factor that the Olympics faced was water pollution. The population in Rio has grown so fast that sanitation and other infrastructure has not been able to keep up. As a result of this, around half of the city’s waste, from its 9 million residents, flows into rivers and eventually to the Guanabara Bay, creating a dangerous mix of bacterial and viral contaminants (Branch, 2016). Rio had hoped to utilize the Olympic movement to improve water conditions by capturing and treating 80 percent of the sewage flowing into the Bay (Rio, 2009).  However, despite Olympic organizers promise to clean the city’s waterways at their 2009 bid, trash, raw sewage and even body parts have been a presence at water sport venues. The Associated Press reported that individuals entering the water system had a 99 percent chance of contracting a viral infection if they swallowed even as little as three teaspoons of the water (Brooks & Barchfield, 2015). Therefore, this having an effect for the locals as the fishermen will not be able to source their fish. In Rio fish are a vital resource for both food and income. Fish are used to feed families and are sold at the local market to buy essential goods like rice and beans. Guanabara Bay is a lifeline for many desperately poor families and the eco-barriers disturbed their access to that lifeline.

Figure 2

However, it’s not all negative, Rio have shown concern to the environment, for instance they calculated that Approximately 29.5GW of energy will be required to power Rio 2016. Therefore, they used Off-site renewables and on-site energy efficiency. Around 85% of Brazilian electricity comes from renewable sources, this mainly being hydropower. In addition to this, the headquarters of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee adopted the approach of being the first to use LED’s the light up the stadiums and buildings. This will lower energy output and reduced carbon footprint, furthermore, its estimated these LED fixtures will save around £380,000 in energy costs (Newsroom, 2016).


Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 games highlighted the ongoing debate over the costs and benefits of hosting such a mega-event. Tourism has generated a significant income for Rio, however it’s clear to see that this has paid a price on the environment. The Olympics have been associated with many negative aspects when it comes to preserving the environment, the Games have the potential to bring environmental benefits to the host communities. These may include new and better standards in the building industry, use of renewable energy sources (Frey, Iraldo, & Melis, 2007). However more than a year later, the city still struggles with debt incurred, maintenance costs for abandoned facilities, underequipped public services, and crime.


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