Sports Tourism Spearheads South Africa’s Tourism Recovery
As anticipation reaches fever pitch ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the success of three mega sporting events hosted in South Africa over the past six months has given the country’s tourism sector a significant boost.
South Africa has hosted the Indian Premier League (IPL), the FIFA Confederations Cup and the British and Irish Lions rugby tour, cementing its reputation as one of the world’s leading sporting events destinations.
The last-minute relocation of the IPL due to the Indian national election was a considerable coup for the African nation, and its runaway success silenced the critics who had voiced concern over South Africa’s readiness to host events of this stature.
The tournament injected almost R2-billion ($258-million) into the South African economy with over 40,000 hotel rooms and 10,000 domestic flights booked.
The British and Irish Lions tour in June and July contributed R1-billion ($128-million) to the South African economy, with R250-million ($32.2-million) in direct foreign exchange.
June’s 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup was the next opportunity to showcase South Africa’s readiness as well as rigorously testing, much of the 2010 FIFA World Cup infrastructure.
Almost 600,000 fans attended the two-week tournament which took place in four of the nine 2010 FIFA World Cup Host Cities.
According to Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the success of the IPL, the Lions tour and the Confederations Cup, unlocked the potential for the 2010 FIFA World Cup to return South Africa to its pre-recession tourism high.
He said construction linked to the World Cup would contribute R50bn to the economy, while tourism would generate a further R15bn, with 3.5 million fans expected to attend the tournament.
Foreign arrivals would also receive a huge boost with 450,000 fans expected in the country next year.
He said: “The World Cup affords us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase the best we have as a tourism destination.”
“Together with exposure to billions of television viewers, 2010 provides an unparalleled opportunity to enhance the brand awareness of SA as a premier tourist destination.”
Held concurrently with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa will play host to World Sport Destination Expo (WSDE) – the first ever exhibition dedicated to the $600 billion a year sport tourism industry.
As well as being the prime opportunity for the travel industry to cement future business with the industry’s top buyers, WSDE will act as a platform for South Africa to create a lasting legacy and capitalise on the world-wide exposure that the event will provide.
South Africa’s travel and tourism industry is expected to present a show of force at the international exhibition. Citing the success of the 2006 FIFA World Cup to the German tourism industry, WSDE is positioned to generate years of follow-on tourists and deliver South Africa with future tourism growth.