The South African government is intervening after the country’s SA Tourism body withdrew from Match, the entity appointed to arrange ticketing, transport and accommodation for the 2010 football World Cup, alleging that Match was “bullying” owners of small hotels.

According to South African media reports, Match, which was appointed by Fifa, is meant to secure 55 000 hotel rooms for the event, but so far has secured only 35 000, supposedly because of industry reluctance to be involved with the deal. SA Tourism alleged that accommodation owners were being “bullied” into accepting deals under unfavourable conditions.

On November 8 2008, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) urged the industry to co-operate with Match.

“We are on record for encouraging our members and the tourism businesses at large to support the work of Match in preparation of the World Cup and to enter into contractual agreements in the way they would do with any other business transaction,” TBCSA said, according to a report by the South African Press Association.

Government-backed news service BuaNews reported Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk is to facilitate talks between South African Tourism and Match.

Van Schalkwyk said he wanted to reiterate that South Africa has 100 000 graded rooms available on its database for 2010, which is more than enough to fulfil the Match-requirement of 55 000 graded rooms.

“Our tourism industry is ready for 2010 and all role-players are committed to ensuring that visitors enjoy an unrivalled experience in South Africa,” Van Schalkwyk said.

“As soon as all role-players are available, I will convene a meeting to clear the air. I am confident that with good communication between the parties we will be able to resolve the matter,” he said.

Van Schalkwyk said he had telephonic discussions about the issue with all the parties on November 4, BuaNews said.

AUTHOR: Clive Leviev-Sawyer
DATED: 9th November 2008