As the World Cup enters its second half, tourism officials say football fans have already brought an economic windfall that looks set to continue as the big countries progress to the later stages of the tournament.
South Africa is on target to earn about 8.8 billion rands ($1.1 billion) from tourism during the World Cup, according to a new report from Grant Thornton consultancy. That’s just a slice of the 93 billion rands that the games are expected to have generated for the economy. Most of that amount was spent on infrastructure by the government on stadiums and improving transport links.
Business is booming with foreign fans at bars and restaurants. Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront shopping and entertainment complex has proved popular with fans ahead of games at the nearby Green Point stadium, where Portugal plays Spain on Tuesday.
“On a daily basis it’s more or less in the figure of 100,000 coming through with spikes on match day,” said Waterfront spokeswoman Annemie Liebenberg.
“These loyal supporters travel with their teams. It’s absolutely fantastic to have the big guys still.”
Before the start of the tournament, South Africa cut its original expectations of 450,000 foreign visitors over the four weeks to 300,000.
But the tournament falls within the winter, which is tourism low season, giving the industry a second spike.
The country spent about 100 million dollars on its World Cup marketing campaign.
South African Tourism head Thandiwe January-McLean said the marketing benefits were invaluable from hosting one of the world’s most-watched sporting events.
She told the AFP: “From a touristic point of view this has been a fabulous opportunity, just given the exposure that South Africa has received all over the world.”
Hotels are around 85 percent full in Johannesburg, according to SA Tourism.
Cape Town says occupancy has been around 40 percent over the last two weeks, but accommodation closest to the stadium is fully booked and tour operators report a 20 percent jump in business against last June.
Meanwhile, towns which are usually quiet, such as Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth, have experienced a flood of visitors.