With two major international sports events, 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, scheduled to be held in Brazil in the next five years, it’s high time the country should improve its “substandard” tourism infrastructure, according to the Brazil Tourism Report Q1 2011, released recently.

According to the report, Brazil has one of the world’s poorest transportation, roads and rail networks. The United Nations World Tourism Organization, or UNWTO, ranks the country 95th out of 130 countries for transport infrastructure.

Hosting sports tournaments like the World Cup or the Olympics are major events countries look forward to for increasing international arrivals and notice, and upgrading their economy. Hosting the FIFA World Cup 2010 in June last year helped South Africa surge in global tourist arrivals by 17.4 percent in the first eight months of the year, according to South African tourism figures. India also recorded an increase in the arrival of foreign tourists by 9 percent in October 2010,  the month in which the country hosted the Commonwealth Games.

However, inconvenience due to infrastructure around such events could take a toll on tourism. Fearing this, Brazil’s airport administrator, Infraero, has initiated a $2.44 billion project to upgrade the country’s airports, said the report.

About 500,000 football fans will visit Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, the report estimates, adding that the country’s economy is in a favorable situation to support the required developments.

The personal safety of tourists, however, has become another hurdle for Brazil’s tourism industry, with carjacking and robbery incidents having put the country in a negative spotlight during the 2010 Formula 1 Grand Prix.

According to the Brazilian Association of Bulletproof Manufacturers, over 7,000 vehicles were armored for civilian use in Brazil in 2008, up from 1,782 a decade earlier. In November 2010, the country’s security forces claimed to have curbed crime rates, a trend the country hopes to continue leading up to the World Cup and Olympic Games.