Sports fans across Australia are getting ready for the games, with Cheapflights.com.au reporting a 46% surge in flight searches to Rio de Janeiro for travel between 5 and 21 August.
More than 53,000 Aussies are predicted to have tickets to the Games, and Sydneysiders are first in line, with a 96% spike in flight searches in the lead up to the world’s biggest sporting event, followed by those from Perth (31%) and Melbourne (9%).
Nathan Graham, Regional Sales Manager ANZ at Cheapflights, said the upcoming Olympics provide the perfect opportunity for travellers to visit South America and the host cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Manaus, Salvador and São Paulo.
“With Brazil recently announcing a temporary visa-waiver program for Aussies visiting for less than 90 days, we can see travellers are taking advantage and planning longer stays of 19 days on average. The closer we get to the Games, the more airfares are increasing so travellers should get in quick if they spot a deal. Currently, Sydney and Brisbane are the cheapest departure points with flights available from $1,800.”
Travellers intending to join in the Olympic fever, though, are being warned not to bring that fever back home, with Brazil currently experiencing a major outbreak of Zika virus as well as yellow fever.
The World Health Organisation has advised travellers to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, including:
- Using insect repellents and wearing clothing – preferably light-coloured – that covers as much of the body as possible.
- Practicing safer sex (for example, use condoms correctly and consistently) is important, or abstaining from sex during their stay and for at least 8 weeks after their return.
- Ideally, choose air-conditioned accommodation (where windows and doors are usually kept closed to prevent the cool air from escaping, and mosquitoes cannot enter the rooms).
WHO has observed, though, that cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus. Brazil is only 1 of almost 60 countries and territories which to date report continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes.
The government’s Smart Traveller website advises Australian travellers to exercise a high degree of caution in Brazil – due to high levels of serious and violent crime, particularly in major cities, rather than mosquitos.