The global economic crisis is unlikely to affect projections of 480,000 World Cup tourists who are expected to spend one billion dollars in South Africa next year, a FIFA briefing heard Saturday.

Africa’s first World Cup is expected to contribute 55.7 billion rand (five billion euro) to South Africa’s economy, 19.3 billion rand in taxes and create 415,400 jobs in pre-recession figures that researchers say still apply.

“We are still confident that we know what we’ve done is fairly conservative,” said Gillian Saunders of consulting firm Grant Thornton ahead of Sunday’s final of the 2010 curtainraiser Confederations Cup. The firm estimates that 483,257 foreign tourists — including fans, teams, and media — will spend 8.5 billion rand during the month-long tournament to be played in nine host cities.

“Soccer or football travellers are fairly fanatical. They’ve made plans a number of years in advance to come to an event like this and they tend not to change their mind,” said Saunders.
Local organising chief Danny Jordaan said ticket sales would give an accurate indication of visitor figures, adding that requests had been received from 202 countries so far.

“I have no doubt that we will see significant inflows of people from all over the world,” he said, adding that the committee used the figure of 460,000 visitors expected for the tournament.

The South African government spent 28 billion rand on World Cup projects with major investments in stadium and precinct development and transport projects accounting for 23.4 billion rand of the national spending. “The big plus about the World Cup is that the World Cup is building facilities that South Africans are going to use,” said South African Tourism acting CEO Didi Moyle. “We are football mad so this is a great investment in the infrastructure going forward for our country.”

Safety and Security has been allocated 1.3 billion rand, with Moyle saying every incident was a problem for the tourism authority. “The issue of safety and security is one of the critical factors in the success of this tournament,” she said.

FIFA’s legacy programme will see 27 artificial-surface pitches built in rural areas and townships, where facilities were sorely neglected during the white minority apartheid government, over the next three years.

PUBLICATION: Pakistan Times
DATED: 26th June 2009