SA’s World Cup exposure ‘priceless’

7 July 2010

The positive global media coverage South Africa has received during the 2010 Fifa World Cup has exceeded all expectations and will benefit the country’s tourism industry long after the tournament ends, says Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

According to the Department of Tourism, the World Cup has showcased the country to an international audience of approximately 32-billion viewers and introduced South African to non-traditional markets in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia.

“We were always confident that our country and our people would show the world what a superb destination we offer, and yet the overwhelming positive international coverage has surpassed even our most optimistic expectations,” Van Schalkwyk said in a statement this week.

“The goodwill that has been unlocked cannot be measured in monetary terms.”

In the years leading up to the tournament, South African Tourism spent about $100-million (R770-million) on marketing and advertising the country to a global audience, getting the message across to 1.9-billion people every month.

“This investment in marketing and advertising … is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the positive reporting on South Africa as a country and a tourism destination that has flooded global media channels since the kick-off of the Word Cup on 11 June,” the minister said.

The country’s tourism sector was now gearing up to capitalise on the success of the World Cup and the exposure the country received.

The World Cup was not an end in itself for the tourism sector, but a major milestone in the industry’s growth trajectory, which would lay a solid basis for a new decade of growth and development, Van Schalkwyk said.

The World Cup would go down in the history books “as one of the best showcases ever for South Africa and Africa, and I am convinced it has opened up the door to our destination to scores of new visitors.”

According to the department, the latest figures show that more than 1.9-million tourists arrived in the country from January to March 2010, compared to 1.6-million during the same period in 2009.

“South Africa’s tourism arrivals for the first quarter of the year exceeded our expectations, and we are confident the World Cup will help us achieve our ambitious growth targets for 2010.”

However, it will be a few months before the exact figures on tourism during the World Cup are released. “As in all other countries, it is normal practice to allow two to three months before the release of statistics in order to ensure data cleaning and analysis.”

Van Schalkwyk said the government would rely on information collected, analysed and released by Statistics South Africa, the Department of Home Affairs and SA Tourism.

“We would caution against premature impact analysis based on ad hoc and anecdotal sources. Some of the figures recently released did not, for example, distinguish between actual tourists and day visitors from neighbouring countries visiting South Africa for reasons other than tourism,” the minister said.

Source: BuaNews