13 November 2009
Sports tourism is a worldwide money-spinner, estimated to be worth around US$600-billion a year, attracting high-end spend from millions of sporting fans worldwide.
Given the size of this industry, it was little surprise then that the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ in South Africa, the Winter Olympics in Canada in 2010 and the 2012 Olympics in London were in the spotlight at the World Travel Market in London this week.
Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 Fifa World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, as a guest speaker at the World Travel Market (WTM), emphasised to media and delegates from all over the world that South Africa is ready, willing and eager to host the World Cup, along with all the fans and tourists it will bring.
As part of a panel that included representatives from the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, as well as SA International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe and South African football legend Lucas Radebe, Jordaan said the first African Fifa World Cup in more than 100 years of football history would be the best yet.
“We have more than enough accommodation for all the fans and tourists that will visit our country next year. As well as the hotels (including more than 30 new world-class facilities) there will also be low-cost bed and breakfast as well as student accommodation options available,” Jordaan said, adding: “During Germany 2006 you could see the British fans camping in every available open space, from the train stations to camp sites.
“We are more than ready to host all the fans during the 2010 World Cup, and hopefully thereafter they will return as tourists without their teams.
“This World Cup will offer visitors a chance to explore the country’s attractions and major tourism spots and allow the world to get to know and appreciate South Africa and the continent better.”
During the group stages of the tournament, teams will never play in the same stadium twice, meaning that fans will get to see and experience at least two of South Africa’s nine diverse host cities, and more if their team progresses.
“Our stadiums are ready, and they comprise some of the best stadiums anywhere in the world,” Jordaan said.
Big event track record
Jordaan emphasised South Africa’s ability to secure major events. “You cannot name more than 10 countries that have hosted the magnitude of top sporting events that South Africa has hosted in just 15 years since its democracy, and there has been not a single security incident in any those 140 major sporting events.
“South Africa’s capability to host this World Cup successfully is beyond doubt.”
Jordaan assured the world that all visitors would be welcome in South Africa.
“We want to show you that we are welcoming and hospitable. I know you know the one South African who is very warm and hospitable in the person of Nelson Mandela,” he said smiling broadly. “But come and discover the other 47-million South Africans who are also warm and hospitable.”
Jordaan closed by encouraging and calling upon the travel industry to seize this momentous occasion, when the eyes of the world are on the African continent to enhance and grow travel and tourism.
International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe urged South Africans abroad to take the opportunity to visit their homeland for the most spectacular World Cup of all time.
“We look forward to bringing many South Africans back for the 2010 World Cup, and maybe they will stay,” Van der Merwe said.