More than 35 000 hotel rooms have been pledged to accommodate visiting football fans during the 2010 Fifa World Cup and more than 19 000 are still needed.

With 408 days left until the football showpiece gets under way, South Africa’s neighbours have also pledged to help ensure an adequate power supply for the World Cup, Eskom said on Monday.

“The Southern African Power Pool (Sapp) on Tuesday pledged to support South Africa … in areas of generation, transmission, customer contributions and demand side management initiatives at a meeting that took place in Maputo, Mozambique.”

Countries that make up the Sapp include Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Eskom Project 2010 unit managing director Johnny Dladla said the power utility was delighted with the Sapp counterparts’ commitment.

“This initiative confirms that the 2010 Fifa World Cup is truly and indeed an African event,” said Dladla.

To make the event a success a total of 55 000 rooms, (which is equivalent to 1,5 million room nights) are needed and 4 545 rooms have already been signed up in KwaZulu-Natal, with 3 442 in Durban and the balance in the surrounding areas.

Now, with just over a year to go to kick-off, the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) has called on hotels and owners of bed-and-breakfast establishments and guest houses who have not yet signed up with MATCH (Fifa’s service partner handling accommodation and ticketing) to do so.

“They will never get another opportunity like this again,” said Brett Dungan, Fedhasa’s chief executive.

“This is a chance to get rooms full for four weeks and maybe longer, particularly at a time when the economy is in a downturn. It is guaranteed business.

“It is time to wake up because this really is a good deal,” said Dungan.

Some hoteliers and owners of bed-and-breakfasts and guest houses have decided not to sign up, but to go it alone to get their bookings.

But Dungan has warned that while they might get good rates for a few nights, the business will not be consistent, they will not be included in the official accommodation brochure and will not be featured on Fifa.com.

They will also not be able to reap the benefits from the official transport logistics plan that ensures that all the fans booking through MATCH are transported to matches at any venue around the country.

A Fifa spokesperson said that generally they needed 80 percent of rooms in an establishment to be contracted, although in some cases, they might accept changes to this requirement.

PUBLICATION: www.iol.co.za (Daily News) (Page 3)
AUTHOR: Barbara Cole and Sapa
DATED: 28th April 2009