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Brazil expects 3.7 million tourists to spend $3 billion in the country during World Cup

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SAO PAULO - Brazil expects a total of 3.7 million tourists during the World Cup, with 600,000 of those arriving from abroad.

With nearly 2 million holidaymakers attending World Cup matches and fanfests, the government said it expects tourism to provide an economic boost of $3 billion to the country during the monthlong tournament that begins in June.

Foreigners are predicted to be bigger spenders than Brazilian tourists, spending on average $2,500 each while in the country.

The government says it wants to use the World Cup to convince international visitors to keep coming back to Brazil after the tournament ends.

"These tourists who come for the matches will spend more money," Tourism Minister Vinicius Lages said. "They are more qualified and we want to win them over during the World Cup."

The government noted that after the Confederations Cup last year, 70 per cent of tourists who came to Brazil for the warm-up tournament said they would like to return to the country.

Rio de Janeiro is expected to receive nearly 90,000 international tourists, the most among all 12 host cities. The capital of Brasilia and the northeastern city of Fortaleza are next in the list, with 79,000 and 65,000, respectively. The southern city of Curitiba will welcome about 26,000 foreigners, the least among all cities, according to the government estimate.

The Brazilian government said it expects half of the 600,000 foreign visitors to watch matches and attend the fanfests, which are official events that allow fans without tickets to watch games for free on large screens in public areas. It is the first time that the government has given such a breakdown among international tourists.

The tourism ministry said the new estimate for foreigners is based on ticket sales, with each tourist expected to watch four matches on average.

A study this week by travel planning and research site Hopper.com showed that fans following Japan and the United States will likely be paying the most on flights within Brazil.

Japan fans will have to spend $774 on flights for the team's three group stage matches, while Americans will pay $557 to watch their team's games, according to the study based on the cheapest possible flights between the host cities where each of the 32 teams will play.

Belgium will be the least expensive team to follow in the first round, with an estimate cost of $113 for the two flights between matches. The amount does not include the price of the plane ticket into Brazil.

The Brazilian government expects a total of 7 million international tourists in Brazil this year. Nearly 5.9 million came to the country in 2013.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: at http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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