Johannesburg - Soccer fanatics visiting South Africa next year for the FIFA World Cup can rest assured that they will have adequate accommodation.
"South Africa will have adequate accommodation for the tournament and people must stop circulating fictitious information regarding this issue," said Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
The minister was speaking to BuaNews, shortly after a 2010 Local Organising Committee meeting on Friday.
"Although we have few [other] challenges, I want to stress that South Africa has no accommodation challenges whatsoever.
"We are constantly working with all host cities in ensuring that our visitors have adequate accommodation come the 2010 World Cup," Minister van Schalkwyk said.
The meeting, attended by the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhenkesi Stofile and LOC Chief Executive Officer, Danny Jordaan, discussed challenges faced by South Africa, ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The transportation system, security, logistics and volunteers programme were among the major issues discussed at the meeting.
Recently, some media reported that FIFA President Sepp Blatter was concerned over a shortage of 15 000 rooms for the 2010 football spectacle.
However, the minister told BuaNews that Mr Blatter was possibly referring to the challenges faced by FIFA's MATCH regarding contracting of rooms for the FIFA family, which included players, match officials and FIFA delegates.
"He was misquoted. As for South Africa, we do not have any challenges for accommodation. FIFA have requested 55 000 rooms for its family and we have set aside 100 000, so we really have no problems in this regard," he said.
MATCH is a professional services company selected by FIFA to provide ticketing, accommodation and event information technology services to FIFA during the world cup.
The South African local tourism industry expects 10 million international arrivals next year and more than 500 000 of this total will be football fans who require adequate accommodation.
During the FIFA Confederations Cup last month, Bloemfontein was faced with accommodation challenges which had forced thousands of soccer enthusiasts and journalist to miss the Bafana Bafana and Spain game.
However, Minister van Schalkwyk said Bloemfontein as well as other small host cities like Limpopo will have sufficient accommodation next year, and "there was no doubt about that".
"We are meeting with these cities and our plans are all set. We expect many people in this country next year and accommodation is important so we will not fail," he said.
The minister said the department will also erect more than 6 400 luxury tented camps at the Kruger National Park to expand accommodation in Mpumalanga.
He said the airport at the park will be re-opened and will be operational during the world cup to ensure fans have enough and efficient transport.
Meanwhile, Dr Jordaan said neighboring countries like Namibia, Leostho, Botswana, Mauritius will forge partnership with South Africa in ensuring that accommodation is sufficient during the tournament.
He affirmed that the details about accommodation and the transportation system in small cities will be closely monitored soon after the tournament's final draw to take place on 4 December in Cape Town.