Whilst fewer overseas football fans are expected to travel to this summer’s World Cup in South Africa, those that did are expected to stay for longer and spend more compared to previous tournaments such as Germany 2006.
According to a new study from accountancy firm Grant Thornton, fans from outside Africa are expected to stay on average 18.7 days, watch five matches and spend, 30,200 rand ($4,105) during their stay, excluding flights.
Tourists in 2006 host Germany, close to many participating team countries, watched an average of 2.6 matches.
The tournament is predicted to boost economic growth by 0.5 percentage points.
Grant Thornton’s Gillian Saunders told Reuters in South Africa said: “We have revised the figures post the world-wide recession and major ticket sales phases, and some of the numbers are encouraging.”
Saunders said: “We always thought people would come for more matches in South Africa, because it is a long-haul destination, but it seems to be a bit more than that,” she said.
The study showed 373,000 foreigners were expected to visit South Africa for the tournament, about 230,000 of them ticket holders. This is higher than the most recent estimate by the local organisers of 200,000 foreign fans, but down on earlier predictions of 450,000.
It also predicts that 85,000 fans would come from the rest of Africa and an additional 20,000 other overseas visitors would travel without tickets to enjoy the atmosphere at urban fan parks, where games will be shown on big screens.
Ticket sales to Africans may fall to just over 11,000 from an earlier forecast of almost 50,000, due to the high cost of travel from other parts of the continent.
Saunders added the long term benefits of hosting the World Cup could be huge.
While government spending on the tournament has been criticised as excessive, much of the infrastructure will leave a legacy for South Africa, particularly in modernising transport.
Marketing the country through a massive global television audience could attract about 2 million extra tourists over the next three years, according to the study.
“The profiling of South Africa and future spin-offs have always been the real benefit of hosting an event of this magnitude,” Saunders added.