Kwazulu-Natal will become the ‘premier destination’ during the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup, an international expert predicted this week.

Dr Nikolaus Eberl, an authority on the 2006 World Cup in Germany, told a gathering in Durban that 88 percent of visitors to Germany during the last World Cup said they would recommend Germany as a destination after the event – and the challenge was to get nine out of 10 visitors to South Africa in 2010 to do the same.

Eberl was part of the KwaZulu-Natal 2010 Road Show organised by the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (previously known as the Tourism Enterprise Programme), a public-private partnership between the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the Business Trust.

Under its new strategy, the programme has gone from being a passive supporter in the growth and development of small-and medium-sized tourism businesses to an active participant.

It has spent millions of rand helping more than 4 000 small tourism businesses and has helped to create more than 40 000 jobs in the industry over the past eight years.

The Durban audience heard this week that its new direction meant it will focus on quality, profitability and productivity and trying to get small businesses internationally competitive.

It has just commissioned a major study on small businesses (turnovers of less than R25-million a year) to identify those capable of providing goods and services for 2010.

More than 4 500 enterprises were surveyed, offering some 6 660 attractions and activities, and most were active in accommodation, arts and crafts and food and beverage.

About 84 percent of those interviewed were capable of providing services for the World Cup, but 49 percent needed help to do it.

Researchers found that although the accommodation establishments run by emerging enterprises were small, they had more than 12 000 rooms between them and “they could play an important role during the 2010 event”.

However, “a large proportion” were ungraded “and this presents an urgent challenge” to MATCH, the Fifa agency managing accommodation and other services, the survey said.

This is because all establishments on the MATCH database had to be graded and the Tourism Grading Council of SA would not grade businesses run by unregistered enterprises.

DATED: 14th November 2008