Many are speculating on the benefits to South Africa of the World Cup. We think that the most important question to be considered by those who are involved in tourism in South Africa is what benefits it will bring to the tourism and Cape Town accommodation industry.
Almost every news site, every press release in the internet, every blogger, seems to be speculating on whether the World cup 2010 in South Africa can be justified over other national priorities, and whether there will be financial benefits. The President, Jacob Zuma, said recently that the 2010 World Cup has been an economic success with good return on the investment of R33 billion the Government spent on transport infrastructure, telecommunication and stadiums. He added that the investment had created an estimated 66 000 new construction jobs and that R1.3-billion spent on safety and security included a permanent addition of 40 000 new policemen and women. “The social benefits are priceless. We have seen remarkable unity, patriotism and solidarity being displayed by South Africans, which has never been witnessed before." Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has stated “What this actually means is that about R38 billion will be added to the GDP as a result of the World Cup.” Then there is the enormous amount of new business enjoyed by Cape Town accommodation establishments, restaurants, and all in the hospitality industry right down to the informal traders.
So it made economic sense. There are many who would argue that the money could have been better spent on housing or a number of other pressing priorities, but from a tourism perspective, there is every reason to be pleased with the outcome of the World Cup, because it has changed forever the way in which our country, South Africa, is seen by the rest of the world, with very positive benefits for the tourism industry. Simply stated the world loves South Africa at the moment. I currently work on contract in the Arabian Gulf and I have been amazed at the interest that has been taken in our country by people of this affluent region. There has been surprise and admiration for our country's ability to have hosted such a magnificent and successful international tournament. What is more exciting is that South Africa has moved up alongside the developed nations in the perception of the world and has escaped its stereotyping. Qatar, aiming to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup; has carefully placed its TV ads immediately following that of South Africa in order to capitalise on our great public image. South Africa is at last on the world map. Coming off a base which has shown growth in tourism even during the past year of recession this should fill us with hopeful anticipation.
The Internet, blogs and social media are full of positive reports from those who have visited South Africa during this tournament. We stated earlier in our blog that the 2010 World Cup should be seen as the creation of exciting new future opportunities for tourism. Tourism accounts for about 4 % of GDP, and is a significant employer. Growth in tourism means growth in job creation. The new tourism strategy released in draft by the Minister seeks to create up to 225000 new direct jobs and 400000 indirect jobs in the tourism sector and increase tourism's direct contribution to GDP from R64bn or 3,4% last year to R125bn by 2015.
The massive positive public relations for South Africa has meant that we are seen as a safe, friendly and positive place to visit, and to do business with. The International accommodation portal hotel.info has just published the results of accommodation enquiries from European tourists which rates Cape Town as the 9th most favoured destination by tourists during the July and August 2010 summer holiday. Undoubtedly some of these enquiries relate to the World Cup but this can only be seen as positive news. The changed perception of the world will bring even more interest from tourists who wish to escape the northern hemisphere winter for sunny South Africa where Cape Town attractions enjoy the majority of visitors. The real benefit of World Cup is the showcasing of South Africa to the world which will grow our tourism; as Germany experienced with a growth of 30% in tourist numbers after they hosted the 2006 World Cup tournament.
On top of the frenetic social networking which has created a public image that almost no amount of government spending could have equalled; South Africa has seen so many influential and public figures are visiting during the World Cup, including ex US Pres Bill Clinton enjoying the nightlife in Cape Town; Chancellor of Germany Engla Merkel; Mick Jagger, Leonardo di Capriccio, UK Royal Princes William and Harry. You may not care for Paris Hilton but the hundreds of thousands who follow her Tweets will get this message : “ South Africa is such a beautiful place. Loves it! It's so beautiful here. I can't wait to go on the Safari this week and see all the amazing animals. Had so much fun at the game today. What a match! I love South Africa! “ Bill Clinton has almost 400,000 followers on Facebook – and has said : “South Africa has branded itself in this World Cup in a very special way. Lots of people didn't think you can pull it off. South Africa is being given a chance to set standards the world can learn from"
South Africa has much to be positive about- our JSE keeps outperforming most of the rest of the world's ; our currency has appreciated some 30% in the past year, and does not seem to weaken because of the inflow of foreign capital seeking investment and excellent interest rates when compared to the rest of the world. In spite of some problems, and which country doesn't have them, we have a stable and peaceful society and we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. So many positive reports are being sent by people who had been surprised to find that South Africa is not riddled with crime, and is not like the negative image that has been portrayed by so many. South African Tourism is to be congratulated for ensuring the superb international coverage on the TV networks during the tournament when the interest in our country is at an all-time high. How can we not be awed at the opportunity that this presents?
Danny Jordaan, CEO of South Africa's World Cup Organizing Committee sums it up beautifully "They said we could not build the stadiums in time: we did. They said we could not provide the infrastructure in time: we did. They said we could not deliver the TV broadcast capability to the rest of the world: we did." There were stories of crime and terrorism and even an outbreak of giant snakes, he said. All this fear-mongering was aimed at suggesting that South Africa was too unsophisticated to host the games. The fact is, the South Africa World Cup is a huge success, among the best run in history--and possibly the most profitable for FIFA ever. Take that, naysayers.
Shari Cohen of the US “Huffington Post “ stated : “ As the 2010 Cup slogan goes, "Feel it. It is here." Well, I have felt it, because I am here. Thank you South Africa, for giving me this unexpected gift. I am humbled.” The official statistics on visitors for the period show an increase in the number of tourists from so many of our traditional markets , but the great news is that the USA has discovered South Africa; they constituted the largest number of any country who visited during the World Cup. South Africa has yet to tap this massive and affluent market and the World Cup is certainly conveying the right image for this market.
We in the in the Tourism Industry look forward to the anticipated growth and hope that the numbers of people who will be looking for accommodation in Cape Town this season will be at an all-time high thanks to the legacy of the 2010 World Cup, which we will enjoy for many years to come.