When Chicago was not selected and in fact came last, one of the arguments noted were the Chicago city crime statistics. Of course Rio de Janeiro is well known for the very same factor – violence. This week alone there were 40 people shot dead in Rio, end result of drug gang warfare.
Let’s face it, Rio de Janeiro is a metropolis of 6 million inhabitants, and as in any city of this size anywhere else around the world, the tourists in Rio best know where to go and where not to go.
Tourism was reported to have grown in 2008 over 2007 by some 7%. Of that, a third were tourists from other countries. The increase seems at first to be fairly significant but statistics showed that the increase was the lowest of all the major cities in Brazil.
In view of the fact Rio has been awarded the 2016 Olympic games and the planning committees in Rio already started meeting to decide the steps they need to take, curtailing crime is one of the key priorities to lure more tourists into the city, and not just for the games that are six and half years away.
So is Rio de Janeiro dangerous? Being geek tourist with a money belt hanging on your belly and speaking loudly in a foreign tongue you will not doubt be targeted. That money belt as a camera in your hand is a calling card for being hit indeed. Be discreet!
Best keep to Zona Sul, watch over your shoulder, do not linger as if you are lost, do not dress in expensive clothing, wear prominently any jewelry, leave bags unattended even in sidewalk restaurants, walk alone in deserted streets, especially at night and especially near any favelas.
Common sense does it, as anywhere. If approached to shell out your money, don’t fight it, hand it out, and that includes to little kids, especially if there are more than one and you are alone. They are poor and have nothing to lose.
To avoid most of these situations as much as possible stay in and move with crowds.
Bottom line spread out your valuables, namely cash. Leave some behind in your room. Never carry all your credit cards on you. Nor your cash.
Mellow out and you’ll love in it Rio de Janeiro. People are friendly and cops are all over and the closer to the games, countdown having already started, there is bound to be heavier police presence on the streets with week after the next.
Rio de Janeiro is a charming city and being paranoid there will only make you miss the ambiance that is unlike in any other city anywhere else.