South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was one of the most important keys in the short term to help the country ride out the recessionary storm, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Wednesday.

“It will be the first ever African soccer World Cup and the biggest sporting spectacular in the world. Our successful hosting of the FIFA Confederations Cup, the DLF Indian Premier League and the British Lions Tour in the last few weeks reconfirmed our readiness to host this world-class event,” he told tourism and business leaders at an event hosted by the chairperson of the trustees of the British Museum.

The British Lions Tour attracted 40 000 international supporters, mainly from the UK, with an estimated revenue of over R1-billion to the fiscus, Van Schalkwyk noted.

The Minister said it was estimated that the World Cup would contribute R50-billion to the economy from construction investment, with an estimated R15,6-billion generated by tourism.

During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa expects 3,5-million participants, of which 1,3-million are expected to be tourist participants. About 445 000 participants are expected to be foreign arrivals.

“The World Cup affords us an once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase the best we have as a tourism destination, namely our people, our natural heritage, our world class infrastructure and a sense of place that fills all of us with pride,” Van Schalkwyk said.

In this respect, South African Tourism had made significant investments in global media deals that included advertising, online marketing, editorial endorsement and targeted promotional campaigns.

“Together with exposure to billions of television viewers, 2010 provides an unparalleled opportunity to enhance the brand awareness of South Africa as a premier tourist destination.”

However, Van Schalkwyk noted that the effects of the global economic downturn were also being witnessed in the tourism industry.

He noted that, during the last six months of 2008, at a global level, international tourist arrivals decreased to 2007 levels and hotel occupancy rates declined by almost 10%. During the second half of 2008, global tourism declined by some 2%, following growth of 6% during the first half of last year.

“This negative growth trend seems to be worsening as we progress into 2009. Provisional figures from the United Nations World Trade Organisation’s ‘world tourism barometer’ indicates a decline of 8% in international arrivals for the first four months of 2009 at a global level, with international tourist arrivals down from 269-million to 247-million compared with the same four months in 2008. By year-end, the best case scenario would seem to be a decrease in international tourism of 4%, with more realistic forecasts predicting a decline of at least 6% in global tourism in 2009,” Van Schalkwyk said.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
DATED: 15th July 2009