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Cancelled bookings, empty rooms: coronavirus takes toll on Rio de Janeiro tourism

The Christ the Redeemer statue is seen illuminated to pay tribute to victims of novel COVID-19 coronavirus disease in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 01, 2020.

Rio de Janeiro's traditional annual New Year's Eve celebrations were called off this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, hitting local tourism hard.

The fireworks display attracts millions of travelers every year to Copacabana beach. Now, the city's tourism office is considering a virtual celebration to avoid any coronavirus outbreak.

Brazil is the second-worst-hit country by the novel coronavirus pandemic after the United States, with 2.4 million cases of the disease and 87,618 deaths. Rio de Janeiro state has the second-highest death toll in Brazil, with nearly 12,876 people dead.

Many parts of Brazil have begun reopening certain segments of society despite tallying tens of thousands of new cases of the disease a day.

At the beginning of the month, Rio city allowed bars and restaurants to reopen, leading to crowds at some establishments despite mandated capacity limits and hygiene measures.

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has railed against state and local stay-at-home orders, saying the damage to Brazil's economy is worse than the virus itself.

Rio is Brazil's tourist magnet, thanks largely to its beaches, beautiful landscape and free-wheeling lifestyle. Tourism accounts for a major portion of the city's economy.

(Source: Reuters)

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