Reda Maher

Brazil 360: Priced out England fans forced to sleep on beach

Reda Maher

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Tourism is a key industry in Brazil, but Manaus is not your typical destination for moneyed holidaymakers.

Best known for being an access point to the Amazon, the rundown city of some 1.8 million inhabitants doesn’t boast the endless sandy beaches and party culture of other major Brazilian cities.

It doesn’t even have a major football club – their team, Nacional, has been outside the top flight for nearly three decades, but now has a World Cup stadium that will host England’s match with Italy on Saturday.

It does, however, boast a good beach, despite being some way from the coast, thanks to the Amazon river. And some fans will use Ponta Negra beach as a makeshift hotel after being priced out of conventional accommodation.

There are hotels in Manaus, but not that many; certainly not enough to cope with the huge influx of fans during these finals. Because of its location near the Amazon, river and jungle trekkers are the most likely tourist to pass through, meaning there are plenty of backpacker hostels.

But, due to unprecedented demand and limited supply, they are charging similar fees to three-star hotels, who themselves are forcing fans to cough up three to four times the amount they would pay to stay in a luxury beach hotel in Sao Paulo or Porto Alegre.

“We’ve not even thought about accommodation yet," said Miles, 20, from Birmingham, who is using the World Cup as the latest stage of his extended gap year with his cousin Lewis.

Miles’ father is already in Manaus, planted at a campsite with many other England fans.

“He bought a big tent for us so we’re welcome there. He said it’s all right, and that there are so many England fans it’s safe.

“But we were hoping to find a hostel.”

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England fans Lewis and Miles said they were playing things by ear in Manaus

Two other England fans briefly joined in the conversation, saying they had found their own solution – for free.

“We’re sleeping on the beach. Loads of the lads are doing it. We’ll be fine.”

Lewis was not so sure.

“We slept on beaches in Australia and Hawaii, but this is different. And anyway, we've got a tent!”

At least there’s the offer of a family member’s tent. Others might not have the same luxury.

Eurosport’s Reda Maher is on location in Brazil for the duration of the 2014 World Cup - follow him on Twitter @Reda_Eurosport

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