Kick-start your Brazil World Cup bookings, writes Katie McGonagle

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The signs are starting to appear – discounts on TVs larger than most people’s living rooms, deals on beer and barbecue food, and even political point-scoring over pub licensing hours – the World Cup is coming.

But why let football-mad clients see it on screen when the action is taking place half a world away in Brazil?

Sure, it’s expensive, most tickets have already been allocated, and they’ll have to get a move on to secure flights and accommodation – but for serious fans, there’s no better place to soak up the atmosphere.

If the thought of booking a World Cup package is as baffling as the offside rule, read on to find out how football furore could help you score more Brazil bookings.

PITCH BATTLE



First things first – know the key dates. The tournament kicks off on June 12 when the home side takes on Croatia, and carries on for a month until the final on July 13.

England has been drawn in Group D, and will face off against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in the group stage matches. If the players are victorious, they will come up against the winners of Group C in either Rio de Janeiro or Recife on June 28 or 29 respectively.

Most fans know whether they have been allocated tickets now, as the first two phases of ticket sales have closed. For those hoping to get lucky with remaining spots or re-sold tickets, the ‘last-minute sales phase’ commences on April 15 via sole authorised seller Fifa.com, or licensed venues in Brazil.

Tourist board Embratur is predicting an influx of 600,000 foreign tourists during the World Cup, with many more coming to experience the fun and fiestas surrounding the tournament.

Brazilian ambassador to the UK Roberto Jaguaribe says: “It’s going to be an enormous party. Brazil is a big melting pot, which makes it much easier for people from different parts of the world to feel welcome.

“We are sure it’s going to be a big success; the only question we have is whether the national team will fulfil expectations and win its sixth World Cup.”

BOOKING BRAZIL



Once fans have secured tickets via Fifa, there are several trade-friendly operators offering tailor-made packages around England fixtures. Thomson Sport has availability on two and three-game packages, the most popular being the Official Follow England package, which follows the three group stage matches, from £6,995.

Packages include international and domestic flights, four-star hotel accommodation, airport and match transfers, plus question-and-answer sessions with football celebrities, merchandise and more. Thomson agents earn a flat fee on bookings, while other agents receive a percentage commission.

Thomson Sport managing director Tom Forshaw says: “Although expensive, the packages do represent good value, and more so than ‘self-packaging’. It is a very specialist sell, so the agent is better off acting as an introducer to us, and let us pick up the sale – and of course, they will still earn the commission.”

Thomas Cook Sport is also offering international and domestic flight options to coincide with the England fixtures, plus advice on the tournament available on its website.

Regional specialist Journey Latin America has added a dedicated tour, Highlights of Brazil Special Football World Cup 2014, to soak up the spirited atmosphere during the England v Italy game in Manaus, and stay in Salvador da Bahia during the Germany-Portugal and France-Switzerland clashes on June 16 and 20.

Like the tours from the big two, it doesn’t include tickets, but does add three nights in Copacabana, Rio, plus Iguaçu Falls, excursions in the Amazon jungle, and blissful beach time in Praia do Forte.

The 15-day tour departs June 7, priced from £5,905 including international and domestic flights, transfers, bed-and-breakfast accommodation, most meals and excursions.

LOOK AHEAD



Think all the excitement is over when the final whistle blows? Not so – once Brazil hits our screens this summer, would-be visitors will be itching to tick this country off the bucket list.

Journey Latin America destinations specialist Laura Rendell-Dunn says agents should capitalise on the World Cup buzz: “Get excited, feel the hype. Dress up shop windows and generally increase Brazil exposure with offers.”

Turn that increased attention into cold, hard bookings by offering to tick off key highlights with a first-timers’ tour. Explore offers Pure Brazil, which in two weeks takes in Salvador, Rio, the Pantanal Wildlife Reserve, Iguaçu Falls and the Amazon Rainforest (from £4,490 including flights), or a tailor-made itinerary from the likes of Cox & Kings, Journey Latin America or Veloso.

Second-time travellers might prefer something off the beaten track, such as the new Walking Trails of Brazil added by Exodus this year. The 10-day tour is an antidote to Brazil’s frenetic fiestas, featuring six days of two to six-hour walks through countryside around Salvador (from £2,899 with flights).

Fever Pitch

HOST CITIES



  • Belo Horizonte: Famed for bars (more than 14,000) and local cheeses, and close to quaint colonial town Ouro Preto.
  • Brasilia: The capital is a feast of modernist architecture, and the first contemporary city named a Unesco World Heritage Site.
  • Cuiaba: South America’s most central city offers unrivalled access to the Amazon Rainforest, Pantanal and Chapada dos Guimarães.
  • Curitiba: Shaped by its many multicultural immigrants, Curitiba boasts an interesting old city at its heart.
  • Fortaleza: This beachfront party paradise also hides a long history, founded in 1726.
  • Manaus: Sitting at the confluence of the rivers Negro and Solimões, this central city is another gateway to the rainforest.
  • Natal: You’ve got to love a place called Christmas, though the city’s rich culture and beautiful beaches enhance its appeal.
  • Porto Alegre: The southernmost host city has a great arts scene and strong European heritage.
  • Recife: The Venice of Brazil – so-called for its criss-crossing rivers – combines a thriving culture and interesting old town with outstanding urban beaches.
  • Rio de Janeiro: Home to the 2016 Olympics, this city is as famous for its Christ the Redeemer statue as its fun-filled party atmosphere, but be warned – it will be busy and expensive during the tournament.
  • Salvador: Combining African, indigenous and European cultural influences, this is the birthplace of Brazil’s most iconic dance rhythms.
  • São Paulo: There’s not much this vast city doesn’t have, mixing multicultural cuisine with thrilling entertainment, plus a new express train taking fans from the station to the stadium within 18 minutes.

MATCH MAKER



Saturday, June 14:
England v Italy, Manaus

Thursday, June 19:
England v Uruguay, São Paulo

Tuesday, June 24:
England v Costa Rica, Belo Horizonte

For more info, go to: fifa.com/worldcup/matches