Durban – The number of overseas visitors coming to South Africa would increase for the soccer World Cup in 2010 despite the global credit crunch reducing disposable income, Gillian Saunders, a Grant Thornton Strategic Solutions director, said on Friday.

Saunders was presenting the latest economic impact study on the 2010 soccer World Cup, which projects that 483 000 foreign tourists will arrive for the event – not counting the 358 257 travellers who will be non-ticket holders. The number of tourists in 2010 was expected to increase by 4.1 percent.

Saunders was confident these people would still travel, as the event was already oversubscribed.

“It’s a big thing. People are not saying they are not going to travel, but what is likely to happen is that they will look for cheaper accommodation and there will probably be fewer tours,” said Saunders.

“The expectation is that by 2010 it will be the beginning of the upturn. Others say [that] for South Africa things will start to change in the second half of 2009. The outlook should be more positive and travel has proved to be resilient even when the markets are down.”

Reports last week quoted Danny Jordaan, the local organising committee’s chief executive, warning that attendance might not meet expectations due to the world crisis.

“The crisis has raised doubts about whether the fans will have the money to travel and come and support their teams,” said Jordaan.

The Grant Thornton study found that the total spend until after the World Cup would be R33 billion and the contribution to gross domestic product would be R55.7 billion.

The government’s tax income would be R19.3 billion and 415 400 jobs would be supported. Foreign spend would be R8.5 billion.

Saunders said these figures were conservative; they would be higher if they included figures for the provinces and municipalities.

The figures were calculated by using government spending on World Cup infrastructure and the number of people expected to visit the country for the spectacle.

The cheapest ticket for the World Cup will cost R140 and is reserved for local fans. The most expensive will be $900 (R9 450 at yesterday’s exchange rate) for the final game.

PUBLICATION: Business Report
DATED: 24th November 2008