South African tourism operators are seeing marketing gold in the 2010 World Cup, a chance to sell the country as a destination to foreign travellers long after the games are over.
“We have no doubt that stadiums and hotels will be full. There is a lot of interest in the World Cup. We are confident,” said Didi Moyle, head of the South African Tourism Board.
But the real benefits of the World Cup – which will run from June 11 to July 11, 2010 – may only be felt later, after South Africa enjoys the international spotlight from the games.
“We don’t really target football fans but everybody will speak about South Africa. It is important for the future,” said Christopher Steenber of Just Done It Expeditions in Cape Town, which rents 4x4s stocked with camping gear.
Gateway Tours and Safaris, which saw 70 percent of its reservations cancelled for 2009, said the World Cup represented a marketing opportunity that could help the industry recover from a dismal year with bookings hit by the global economic crisis.
“I don’t think so many people will come to South Africa for the World Cup. It is too expensive for the Europeans,” said Johan Brits, the company’s director. “But it is a good advertising for the country.”
South Africa expects 450 000 foreign visitors to come for the World Cup.
That’s far less than the 1.3million foreigners who went to Germany for the previous tournament but tourism officials note that for most fans from Europe and the Americas, travelling to South Africa means an expensive long-haul flight.
The tourism board expects 10 million visitors during 2010 – about the same number as visited in 2008 and probably more than during in 2009.
Moyle said the Tourism Board hoped the advertising and the World Cup spotlight would convince fans who do come to stay longer and explore more of the country.
“When they come to South Africa we want that people realize that there are more things that they have not seen,” Moyle said. “It could make them come back.
“So we will give information when people are there. We are a welcoming nation. We also want to show how welcoming people are. You can’t imagine when you haven’t seen it,” she added. – AFP