Sport tourism awaits World Cup booking frenzy

Sport tourism awaits World Cup booking frenzy

The sport tourism industry is expected to receive a massive jolt as football fans make a mad dash to book travel arrangements to South Africa, following the announcement of the World Cup draw this evening.

Those who have already booked packages will be also finalising details of flight and hotel confirmations once they know where their teams will be playing in the knock-out stages.

Sky Sports News is broadcasting live from Thomas Cook’s call centre in Wimbledon during the draw as phones are expected to go crazy.

England are among 32 teams in the group stages draw, which will be held at a star-studded ceremony starting at 5pm GMT in Cape Town, hosted by Charlize Theron.

The tournament itself opens on 11 June, with the final on 11 July.

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Thomas Cook Sport is expected to take more fans than any other operator out to South Africa and its packages are selling out quickly.   

These include the seven-night ‘Football Experience Package’ – in which fans get their money back if England win and Wayne Rooney is top scorer in the tournament.

The 63 matches that follow will span South Africa, from Polokwane in the northeast to Cape Town in the southwest, culminating in the final in Johannesburg on July 11.

A city playing host to a team with a big army of supporters, such as the Germans or English, can expect a considerable tourism lift over the summer.

But the president of the Southern African football body Cosafa, Suketu Patel, says that host cities as well as countries across the Southern Africa region should look to the long-term rather than the short-term hit from the tournament.

“There are opportunities from tourism and teams preparing in the region, but this is not a very long-term thing,” he warned.

“I think that the benefit that we can get as a zone is for countries to make themselves known for the potential that they have - either as an investment destination, a tourism destination, or as a sporting destination.”