As the 2006 FIFA World Cup ends in Germany, South Africans are already looking to 2010 and the first games to be held on African soil.South African Tourism is looking to realign its brands in the marketplace, while Cape Town is building nine new hotels adding to its capacity of 35,000. The airport will be significantly upgraded.
Four to five million visitors are expected for the next World Cup and South Africa expects to boost its tourism potential by about 20 percent above the 1.5 million it already receives.
The tourism authorities also hope to appeal to new tourists beyond the staple markets of Britain, Germany and the U.S.
“Africa is ready, Africa’s time has come, Africa is calling. Come to Africa in 2010,’ President Thabo Mbeki told a media presentation in Berlin, calling for fans to “celebrate Africa in all its magnificent splendour.”
Mbeki was attending a handover ceremony in Berlin with South African icon and previous president Nelson Mandela.
“The World Cup will have a huge economic impact in terms of job creation and tourism, and it will form a true unifying force,” said Basil de Lange, a project development coordinator from Port Elizabeth, who said the 50,000-capacity stadium taking shape at Nelson Mandela Bay was on target to be ready by 2009.
“We have to educate people as to the benefits of tourism, to show that it brings jobs and that brings money, so we can say to people ‘this is of benefit to you,’’ said Julie-May Ellingson from the Durban municipal authorities.
Organisers say the next World Cup will come with an African flavour, with South Africa 2010 benefiting from a huge amount of public goodwill.
“Roll on 2010, says Mbeki,” according to the Johannesburg-based daily, The Star, quoting the country’s president in an interview in Germany where he attended the official handover.
“It is a challenging thing, but it will be done,” Mbeki told The Star after a local news report a week ago questioned South Africa’s ability to stage the event, saying that FIFA had a back-up plan to move it to Australia.
“There’s some people… within South Africa who think they’ve got a permanent job to paint a negative image of South Africa,” Mbeki said.