Every year, Brazil’s Carnival delights the world with its elaborate costumes, intricate dance routines, and creative thematic blend of past, present and future. By some measures, it has also become one of the world’s biggest events in terms of economic impact.
Luiz Carlos Prestes Filho, superintendent of the Department of Economic Development in the state of Rio de Janeiro, estimates that this year’s festival, which ended this week, attracted 850,000 visitors to the state and contributed $628 million to its economy — a 12 percent increase over last year. Brazil’s government puts the tourism income for the whole country at $3.2 billion.
Those numbers would put Carnival in a league with the Olympics, which the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates will contribute some $3 billion to the UK economy when held in London this summer. Brazil’s government estimates the World Cup, to be held in the country in 2014, will generate $5.5 billion in tourism revenues alone.
Such estimates, of course, are not fully comparable. Their scope and methods of calculation tend to differ. Some also ignore costs, such as the lost productivity as locals attend events instead of going to work. Still, they do suggest that Carnival ranks highly among global parties and sporting events.
This year’s festival created temporary jobs or income for 250,000 people, according to Brazil’s Department of Economic Development. Carpenters and seamstresses work year round to prepare, and thousands of additional workers join during technical rehearsals and parades as the event approaches.
In the Sambadrome — an area in downtown Rio de Janeiro where samba schools parade — some 1,100 fast-food vendors were hired for this year’s Carnival. Rio’s 13 samba schools spend roughly $3 million to $4 million each to put together their shows. The total income from the Rio parade itself: $42.7 million in sales of tickets, CDs, television rights, sponsorships, advertising and costumes.