World Cup benefits will be long-term

10 January 2004

Whether you package biltong, bottle wine or sell hotel rooms, the benefits of the FIFA World Cup will be felt by South Africans for years after the event, according to Richard George, convenor of the postgraduate tourism and leisure studies diploma in the School of Management Studies.

Mega events like the 2010 World Cup, defined as those that are so large they affect the whole economy, influence tourism and present an opportunity for long-term sustainable development, not simply short-term development, George says.

"The World Cup will yield extraordinarily high levels of tourism, media coverage, prestige and economic impact for the South African host community," he added.

George says approximately 450 000 people will visit the country during the four-week period, compared with the 1.8 million overseas tourists that visited South Africa in 2002 alone. "We will need huge infrastructural improvements, like airports, indoor and outdoor stadia and parks. We will also need transport and accommodation provision to be in place."

He believes there is a synergistic relationship between sport and tourism. "After co-hosting the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Korea and Japan recorded a rapid growth in all their industries."

Marketing campaigns can also boost tourism before, during and after the event. Korea, for example, embarked on Visit Korea 01 and Visit Korea 02 campaigns to attract visitors to their shores.

"The 2010 World Cup will be a great chance for South Africa to improve its image, raise its status in the international community and demonstrate to the world its superior tourism offering, especially its natural beaches, climate and landscape as well as its cultural and historical attractions."

However, there are watchpoints, George warns. Four areas need to be carefully managed:

  • The environment - care must be taken to minimise the impact of the event on the environment
  • Citizen participation - the event must involve ordinary South Africans through volunteer programmes
  • Information technology improvement
  • Security, which needs to be heightened.

The marketing aspect is also pivotal, George noted. "We should develop a 2010 World Cup video to promote tourism to South Africa that can be shown to all SAA passengers and at international airports in South Africa, leading up to the event. The Internet will also provide an important medium."

The country could also expect huge exposure from the media before the event, with 31 team training camps prior to the cup. "Exposure is assured," he added. "And there is no doubt that mega events reverberate in the global media."

Staging a rare international event like the FIFA World Cup also has social ramifications, not least of which is the immense pride in being South African. "We can expect this to increase in general levels of sporting activity in South Africa."

He concludes: "In the long run, the 2010 World Cup will provide an important milestone in South Africa's long-term strategy for destination marketing."

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