With a little over a month left to the Confederations Cup and less than 400 days to the 2010 World Cup, the city of Joburg has announced its state of readiness and express confidence that its various projects and infrastructure programmes are right on course for a scheduled completion.
Speaking at a press conference on the first day of Indaba in Durban, Joburg Tourism Company CEO, Lindiwe Mahlangu (pictured left) reiterated the importance of Joburg being ready for the Confederations Cup Tournament.“We are preparing to host the biggest and most successful World Cup ever, and we need to make our intentions clear during the Confederations Cup, which is largely seen as a lead-in tournament. Quite important to note is the accessibility issue. The OR TAMBO International Airport, albeit under multi-million rand renovations to capacitate it for the expected visitor influx, can already handle 70 international airlines.
According to Mahlangu, the fact that over 30% of the matches will be played in Joburg, making it the largest host of all the cities, is an exciting opportunity and reinforces the position that Joburg is the ideal events destination globally.
“The fact that we are hosting the most number of matches will help us showcase our grandeur as a big-event host and a destination. We have, in the past, successfully hosted some mega international events, including the World Summit on Sustainable Development, International Cricket Federation World Cup, Miss World pageant and, more recently, the AI Grand Prix.
Mahlangu states that the tourism SSME sector is a key component of the JTC strategy and events of this magnitude continue to increase economic generation in the City, and increase length of stay of the tourist.
“Yes, we are recognised largely as a business and event tourism destination, with our plethora of venues (over 130 venues including the four of the largest multi-purpose venues) and hotels.
“However, we are expecting that a large number of visitors will use this opportunity to visit our world-famous heritage sites in townships like Soweto,” she added.
Sibongile Mazibuko, Executive Director in the Joburg 2010 Office, is confident that Joburg’s infrastructure is more than adequate to prove a hospitable stay for the expected throngs of people.
“Joburg is a mega city and we are the biggest host of the World Cup. Naturally we do expect that a lot more people will stay here, which brings into question issues of accommodation, safety and transportation. As matters stand, there are 135 hotels (6,628 beds) and more than 250 non-hotels (981 beds) that have been signed up by MATCH - this coupled by various SMME BnBs that are widely spread across the city and surrounding areas.
An important aspect about Joburg is its centrality and the fact that most destinations can be reached by air in two hours or less.
Two public viewing sites have already been identified: Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtonwn and Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown while safety and security has been intensified.