Since the beginning of the year most southern Africa media outlets have run at least one story about how their respective countries stand to benefit from the upcoming 2010 World Cup. And when it comes to sector coverage, it stands to reason that the hospitality sector in particular, has been one of the leading commentators on the potential benefits accruing to them from the event. Are they being overly optimistic or is this within reason?
Let’s look at the numbers – MATCH, which is FIFA’s ticketing, accommodation and event information technology services company, has projected that 50,000 rooms are required for the event. To date 31,926 rooms have been committed, creating a deficit of 18,074 rooms. These rooms will be drawn from the hotel and non hotel sector (bed and breakfasts, guesthouses, lodges). The fact that teams are not allowed to enter South Africa earlier than 10 days before kick-off means hospitality operators around southern Africa, especially those bordering on the host country, could benefit from a marketing drive specifically aimed at hosting these teams and their supporters, while they acclimatise. And believe it or not, the smart money isn’t on the teams seeded to win, it’s those who will be knocked out early but want to stay on to enjoy the hospitality and unparalleled African experience in which sub-Saharan Africa excels.
MATCH has announced their top tier of accommodation providers as Mauritius, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and hosts South Africa. Some countries such as Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Zambia, which have much to offer the tourist have not been included in the list, so does this mean all is lost? Not at all! Hospitality operators should be pro-actively seeking partnerships with tour operators, especially those based in South Africa, to take up excess capacity. They should also consider marketing aggressively to source markets.
African Sun has been active in this aspect and has seen good traction as a result. It also helps that the group’s footprint across southern Africa means we are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the first African World Cup. We encourage all tourism and hospitality providers to put their best foot forward and demonstrate just what a quality destination experience we can deliver, before the globes spotlight passes on. The time is now, Viva FIFA 2010!
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