Positive World Cup coverage a boost for SA tourism

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pretoria - The positive global media coverage South Africa has received during the 2010 World Cup has exceeded all expectations and will benefit the country's tourism industry long after the tournament ends.

According to the Department of Tourism, the World Cup has showcased the country to an international audience of approximately 32 billion viewers and introduced South African to non-traditional markets in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia.

"We were always confident that our country and our people would show the world what a superb destination we offer, and yet the overwhelming positive international coverage has surpassed even our most optimistic expectations.
"The goodwill that has been unlocked cannot be measured in monetary terms," Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said.

In the years leading up to the tournament South African Tourism (SAT) spent about $100-million (R770-million) on marketing and advertising the country to a global audience and got the message across to 1.9 billion people every month.

"This investment in marketing and advertising by SAT is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the positive reporting on South Africa as a country and a tourism destination that has flooded global media channels since the kick off of the Word Cup on 11 June," the minister said.

The country's tourism sector is now gearing up to capitalise on the success of the world cup and the exposure the country received.

Van Schalkwyk said the World Cup was not an end in itself for the tourism sector but a milestone in the industry's growth trajectory.

The World Cup would lay a solid basis for a new decade of growth and development, he added.

"Our tourism industry is geared to make the most of the opportunities created by the world cup. The championship will be recorded in the history books as one of the best showcases ever for South Africa and Africa and I am convinced it has opened up the door to our destination to scores of new visitors," Van Schalkwyk said.

According to the department the latest figures show that more than 1.9 million tourists arrived in the country from January to March 2010 - an increase from the 1.6 million during the same period in 2009.

"South Africa's tourism arrivals for the first quarter of the year exceeded our expectations, and we are confident the World Cup will help us achieve our ambitious growth targets for 2010," the minister said.

But it will be a few months before the exact figures on tourism during the World Cup are released.

"As in all other countries it is normal practice to allow two to three months before the release of statistics in order to ensure data cleaning and analysis," the minister explained.

Van Schalkwyk said government would rely on information collected, analysed and released by Statistics South Africa, the Department of Home Affairs and SAT.

"We would caution against premature impact analysis based on ad hoc and anecdotal sources. Some of the figures recently released did not, for example, distinguish between actual tourists and day visitors from neighbouring countries visiting South Africa for reasons other than tourism," the minister said.