One example how Joburg was the ultimate tourism magnet during the world soccer tournament is the Apartheid Museum, which attracted 6 000 visitors a day during the first two weeks of the World Cup, according to the museum’s operations manager, Nawaal Patel. Sports Focus reporter SYDNEY MORWENG discussed the gains of the City of Gold with Lindiwe Kwele, CEO of Johannesburg Tourism.
How did it feel to be the business chief of the city which was effectively the main host of the World Cup?
It was wonderful! We all enjoyed every minute of the football spectacle and playing host to all our international guests and visitors. It was also a wonderful coup for Joburg, as the centre-stage, our rightful place. Johannesburg is the main entry point to South Africa, the city is therefore naturally positioned to be the country’s No. 1 tourism destination. The World Cup has helped us to show off our city, and for it to be seen in a positive light by visitors and the international media, was a major victory for Johannesburg.
What significance does the WC has to the masses of Jozi, and the expectations thereof?
The positives are numerous. . . enhanced infrastructure, dedicated tourist safety and security cadets, improved tourism information services, youth development and fostering an unprecedented interest in our city and province. Above all, the most precious legacy is the unifying effect this mega event had on Jozi people and the nation as a whole.
We need to build on this renewed sense of pride and patriotism, and continue to stand together to tackle the challenges which lie ahead. Johannesburg is a world city in the making, more work lies ahead. We cannot, therefore, afford to fold our arms and rest on our laurels.
Does JHB Tourism has statistics to confirm its position as the main attraction during the world cup?
The headquarters of FIFA were in Joburg, and so was the international media broadcast centre. Many teams were based in Johannesburg, while the city also hosted more matches than any other. Statistics are not out yet, but from above facts it should be clear that Johannesburg was the place to be during the World Cup. As a result, the local hospitality industry has reaped the benefits of its hard work and investments over the past few years, thanks to the extraordinary occupancies and patronage during the World Cup period.
Sandton was clearly the hub of WC activities. Were smaller establishments in other parts of Jozi well marketed?
I would like to think that everyone in the tourism sector took advantage of this unprecedented opportunity for international exposure in order to promote and market themselves. I expect our operators to have used networking channels pre and during the world cup to link in to the relevant industry networks locally and overseas.
What is the market share, and the economical spin-offs?
The economic spinoffs have gone way beyond financial. This event has managed to unify a nation, instilled civic pride and changed the geopolitical face of Joburg.
We do know that we commanded a higher market share than any other host city, due to the fact that the majority of teams, fans and visitors used Joburg as their base.
The “Joburg Rocks” campaign was received with excitement and enthusiasm. Was it a once off theme, or will it be retained for future pride campaigns, more so with the Tourism Month a month away (September)?
The Joburg Rocks campaign was very well received because its succinct and conceited message rightfully brags about all Joburg is about: vibrant, dynamic, happening and happy people. We would certainly want to replicate this spirit in our forthcoming marketing campaigns. We are currently putting together our spring campaign, which is set to launch in Tourism Month in September. Many of the overseas visitors during World Cup promised to return in our Spring; Joburg is gonna rock them like they’ve never been before!
Any plans to help black-owned tourism business, like accommodation, transport, and information sources, to be part of the mainstream?
Absolutely! As an event the World Cup brought into focus not only infrastructure and product development, but also the necessity to focus on previously undeveloped and untapped areas, and of course the development of youth as a sector. I’d like to think that this is just the start, as many organisations, including JTC have prioritised these as key strategies going forward. This includes initiatives like tourist development by enhancing SMME competitiveness through accreditation, Adopt a B & B and utilising black tour operators to shuttle visitors.
What was your craziest moment as you met and dined with the visitors?
I thoroughly enjoyed keeping up with the antics of the visiting fans and celebrities and for me one of the most humorous was some crazy British fans. The guys had taken being sociable to the extreme when they challenged Johannesburg Prison inmates to a football match. They promised to annihilate or do something similarly strongly worded to the jailbirds!The other moment was when international pop star Akon made a surprise entrance at the Sandton Convention Centre. The stampede that ensued was so crazy, that Akon’s bodyguards were sweating trying to keep the fans at bay. The whole scene was funny, despite the potential danger of a crush.
Where and when were you born, and why travel is good?
I was born in the early 1970s in KwaDukuza (formerly Stanger) north of Durban. Travel is good because it opens up the world, both physically and mentally. No matter how far you go, if you travel for pleasure you always remain fresh.
Do Joburgers travel enough?
I guess not, because what keeps people grounded is that they are looking forward to the day they will be having plenty of cash to travel. That mentality is brought by the notion that travel means going abroad. I urge Joburgers to embrace tourism by being a tourists in their own city and then the country before venturing overseas. The internet and travel media have special discounts for travel packages suitable for everybody.
If you are not travelling for business, how do you spend your leisure time?
Relaxing with my family comes first. I also like watching sport, dining out, playing golf, swimming, reading and meditating.