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Sport tourism takes centre stage

Sport tourism takes centre stage

With South Africa revelling in World Cup glory, a delegation of sport tourism leaders gathered in Johannesburg for the landmark World Sport Destination Expo to gain further insights into the fastest growing sector of travel.

(Left: Lindiwe Kwele, CEO, Johannesburg Tourism Company on the first day of WSDE in Johannesburg)

Making the opening address, Thandiwe January Mclean, CEO, South African Tourism, said: “You are all part of the monumental occasion taking place here in South Africa with the World Cup. It is extremely significant that this landmark conference, World Sport Destination Expo, is also taking place here.”

(Thandiwe January Mclean, CEO, South African Tourism)

She also highlighted how the tournament would serve as a foundation for future sporting events.

“Sport tourism is an essential tool in transforming South Africa,” she said: “It is a powerful catalyst for skills transfer and job creation.

“The World Cup has helped us build the beginnings of well-developed sports structure. From world-class stadia and upgrading our transport era, we now have the tools in place to build a long-term legacy.”

(Kevin Roberts, Editorial Director, SportBusiness Group, makes the opening address)

One of the success stories to emerge from the tournament has been the growth of new markets. These include India, growth up 17 percent last month compared to the same period last year, China up 12.5 percent, Holland up 22 percent and Argentina up an incredible 43 percent.

Whilst the whole of South Africa is reaping the rewards of FIFA 2010, the city of Johannesburg has been on its brightest stars.

In the opening session of WDSE, Lindiwe Kwele, CEO, Johannesburg Tourism Company said: “Who would have thought Joburg would have been the epicentre of the World Cup?”

“Today we are now standing on a par with the other previous host nations of the World Cup.”

The Joburg tourism chief also highlighted how one of the great success stories had been the infrastructure improvements to the city, including the Gautrain and the Rea Vaya – Johannesburg’s new rapid bus system that whisks fans from points across the city to games at two host stadiums, Soccer City and Ellis Park.

(Left: Lindiwe Kwele, CEO, Johannesburg Tourism Company on the first day of WSDE in Johannesburg)

“The tournament has been a platform that has changed the geo-political face of Joburg. The new infrastructure has helped decongest the roads, it has initiated the construction of the Gautrain and the implementation of the Rea Vaya.

“Sport tourism is a catalyst for sustainable growth, and it is essential that we ensure the World Cup is a springboard for the future.”

One of the other patterns to emerge from the tournament has been the explosion of social media on the World Cup stage compared to four years ago. Keynote speaker, Clay Smith, Senior Business Director, Octagon, highlighted how Sept Blatter’s Twitter site had been attracting followers at a rate of 9 per second.

The delegation included a large Brazilian contingent, eager to gain insights and analysis ahead of their hosting the FIFA 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

David Sidenberg, BMI South Africa, gave a useful insight.

“Ticketing income alone won’t generate sufficient revenue to recoup the construction costs. You need to cover all angles in your plan, from how easy the stadium will be to adapt for concert use to camera placings,” he said.

(Nilo Felix, the Rio representative of Embratur, and Valieria Dias, Directora de Projetos, Ministero do Esporte, Brazil)

Meanwhile Rio de Janeiro gave a presentation of the unprecedented opportunities his city faces ahead of hosting the world’s two greatest sporting events. These include the creation of Brazil’s first zero energy building with the upgrading of the Maracana, extending the highways to facilitate a Johannesburg-style Rea Vaya, rapid bus transit.

World Sport Destination Expo

Sandton Convention Centre – Johannesburg
Maude Street Sandton 2196,
Johannesburg, South Africa

5 to 9 July 2010