The 2010 World Cup holds the key to South Africa easing its way through the global downturn, according to Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
Speaking to a delegation of business people in London, 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.”
But the minister added that South Africa’s tourism industry was not immune to the effects of the recession.
“There is clearly no denying that the marketplace for tourism today looks dramatically different to a year ago,” Van Schalkwyk said.
“Although this sector is not as hard hit as, for example, the construction or car manufacturing sectors, demand is down and for many in the tourism industry the times are tough. Some of the impacts will only become more visible in the next few months as the full consequences of the global economic meltdown settle in.”
Held concurrently with FIFA, the host city Johannesburg will also be holding the inaugural World Sport Destination Expo. Dubbed “The Global Market Place for Sport Tourism”, it will provide the ultimate market place for sport tourism - some 50,000 visitors are expected, including the leading decision-makers from sport and tourism as they congregate in Johannesburg ahead of the final match of FIFA 2010.
Danny Jordaan, CEO 2010 FIFA World Cup organising committee, said: “Whether a city or a region is eager to win the rights to host major sporting events or a hotel or resort is offering sporting facilities, they should participate in this must-attend exhibition.”
World Sport Destination Expo: 5-9 July 2010
Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg - Official Host City for the 2010 FIFA World Cup