1 June 2007
First National Bank (FNB) expects South Africa’s tourism industry to boom in the run-up to the 2010 Fifa World cup, as increasing numbers of existing and potential tourism business operators apply to the bank for finance.
In a statement released last week, FNB says that statistics gathered at the Tourism Indaba in Durban in early May showed a 300% increase in projected figures for potential business coming through the bank.
“Businesses are looking at growth in various ways,” said FNB head of solutions for tourism Pieter de Bruin. “People who approached us at the Tourism Indaba ranged from those who are looking for commercial property financing to buy or construct new buildings for accommodation, to those businesses looking to finance new assets, such as transport fleets like buses.”
An analysis of business activity at the FNB branch located at the Durban International Convention Centre also showed increased foreign currency sales driven by the number of foreign visitors to the Indaba.
De Bruin says the high number of tourists coming to events like the Indaba represents a significant boost for the local economy; and he believes they are set to increase in the run-up to the World Cup, presenting local entrepreneurs with business opportunities in the expanding tourism market.
“Increasingly, we hear about the opportunities offered by the 2010 Fifa World Cup, but the local industry should actually be working towards 2009,” De Bruin said. “2009 is the year for the Confederations Cup, the precursor to the World Cup, as well as the British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour – both of which will bring thousands of sports fans to South Africa.”
He believes that both 2009 and 2010 will be milestones in the phenomenal growth of the tourism industry in South Africa, with television coverage of those events being broadcast to viewers across the globe.
“2010 is just 30 days, but tourism growth goes way beyond the event itself,” he said.
According to FNB, most of South Africa’s luxury hotels are already experiencing unprecedented occupancy levels, driven mainly by holidaymakers in Cape Town and business travellers in Johannesburg.
“In the years following the sports events, South Africa expects many return visitors who came here initially as sports supporters,” FNB added. “This should set in motion the increasing popularity of the destination to the world travel market.”