24 June 2010
South Africa is set to reap lasting tourism rewards from the 2010 Fifa World Cup, with visitors pouring into the country in numbers, from new as well as traditional markets, and responding to the country’s offerings – and the energy and warmth of its people – with surprise and delight.
According to the South African Department of Home Affairs, 682 317 foreigners entered the country between 1 and 21 June – compared to 541 065 during the same period last year. And the influx is set to increase as the tournament enters the knockout stage.
Over and above visitors from neighbouring countries, the largest number of foreign arrivals have been from the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, France, Netherlands and Argentina.
“From a tourism perspective, the World Cup has been fantastic exposure for South Africa,” Thandiwe January-Mclean, CEO of South African Tourism, said this week.
“The World Cup has afforded South Africa the opportunity to do away with stereotypes,” January-Mclean said. “Overall, the response from visitors has been one of surprise. Surprise at our infrastructure development, at the excitement of match audiences. All our feedback has been positive; people are extremely excited.”
South Africa Tourism is confident that the World Cup will open up the country to a whole new spectrum of visitors.
“The 2010 FIFA World Cup has seen an increase in visitors from new countries, namely the Latin American nations such as Mexico and Brazil,” said Roshene Singh, the chief marketing officer of SA Tourism.
“This has been coupled with the implementation of the international Fifa Fan Fests™, at which over 900 000 people have been in attendance since the start of the tournament.
“The highest television audience and international fan fest attendance has been in Mexico. We are promoting South Africa in those Fan Fests,” Singh said.
“There will be new market opportunities after this tournament,” Singh added. “With our track record of hosting major events, sports tourism is important to South Africa. We are not relaxing, we are continuing with our campaigns to convert awareness into visitors.”
One of the biggest talking points around large sporting events is the revenue generated from visiting fans, and South African Tourism is confident that the tournament will be a success from a tourism revenue perspective. “We only have estimates at this point, but we are looking at around R27-billion, almost a thousand percent of what we spent on marketing,” Singh said.
Last year, the South African economy benefited from R100-billion in tourism spend. While global tourism numbers took a dive in 2009 – internationally there was a 4% decrease in tourism – South Africa managed a 3.7 percent increase.
“Although we have no official figures yet, we are confident we have met the numbers we projected for the World Cup,” said January-Mclean.
South African accommodation figures are also looking promising, with 65 to 70 percent occupancy rates in Johannesburg, while Cape Town and Durban are looking closer to 85 percent.
“We will see an increase in movement as we reach the knock-out stages,” January-Mclean predicted.