International Briefs

A rendering of the 2016 Olympics site in Rio de Janeiro
Hoteliers compete for opportunities in Rio

With Rio de Janeiro selected as the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games, the race is on to see which hotelier will undertake the bulk of the development projects needed to accommodate the influx of visitors.

A Bloomberg report says that Rio de Janeiro needs to more than double its current number of hotel rooms before the games start, up to 48,000 from 22,000.

Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts are thought to be early competitors for the job. The expansion effort could allow these international chains to make their mark in the region, according to Gregory Rumpel, an executive vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. By his estimation, just 12 percent of hotels in Brazil are foreign-owned.

Of particular concern in the coming months will be the need to ramp up the number of three- to five-star hotels in Rio de Janeiro. According to a March 2008 Olympiad Working Report on the 2016 games, the benchmark for accommodations during the summer games is a hotel density of at least 40,000 three- to five-star rooms.

According to the report, Rio planned to address its shortage of upscale rooms by using cruise ships and condominiums. Of course, the report acknowledged, “the use of cruise ships … generally causes logistic and cost issues.”

UK mortgages now harder to obtain

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Mortgages are reportedly becoming harder to obtain in the United Kingdom, according to a second-quarter 2009 survey from the Bank of England released this fall.

In response, the UK’s Council of Mortgage Lenders said in a press release that the scarcity of mortgages was due to “unexpected deterioration in the cost and availability of funds for lenders themselves.” CML said that mortgage availability is expected to “improve modestly” through the end of the year.

While the situation could be seen as a setback for the UK housing market, there was positive news in the Bank of England report as well — the survey showed that, for the first time in two years, mortgage default rates dropped. According to CML’s data, households in the UK are coping better with the financial downturn than many analysts had initially anticipated. Still, the group said, it expects payment problems to persist in the coming months.

Indonesia starts to rebuild

Habitat for Humanity plans to build homes and relief facilities in Indonesia, which was devastated by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in September.

The nonprofit organization, which builds homes for needy families and individuals in North America, Asia, Africa and Latin America, said in a press release that it will construct an 18-square-meter facility in southern Sumatra that will serve as the region’s main shelter. The center will utilize an earthquake-resistant design and will feature expandable components that can be constructed from salvaged materials.

Habitat for Humanity also announced that it would construct shelters for 1,000 families in West Java. The organization expects the first 200 homes to be completed by December.

According to reports from the Indonesian Red Cross, relief efforts have been sluggish and somewhat ineffectual, as many organizations have been unable to travel from city centers to the most stricken areas.