By SYDNEY MORWENG
SIX months ago the world watched in awe as the spectacular opening ceremony of the World Cup was broadcast globally from Soweto. For the next four weeks our cities and provinces, our tourism industry and our citizens did us proud.
And based on the results of our survey of the tourism impact of the spectacle, I can today say without a doubt that the success of the event will reverberate for many years to come,” said Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
The Minister made the announcement at the release of results of a survey conducted by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) and South African Tourism (SAT) on the impact of the World Cup show which without a doubt will have a lasting legacy in terms of the South African tourism industry, at the South African Tourism head-quarters, Sandton.
He went on further to say that in addition, more than 309 000 tourists arriving in South Africa for the primary purpose of attending the World Cup and a R3.6 billion boost to our economy in terms of spend, the survey shows that tourists were extremely satisfied with their experience in the country and would highly recommend the destination to friends and family.
“When South Africa bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, our bid represented the hopes of a nation. We hoped that hosting the largest sporting event in the world would showcase to the world our wonderful country, its people, our capabilities and our vision for the future.
“We worked tirelessly for many years across all sectors, from government departments to the private sector and as citizens, to make sure we hosted the best World Cup ever. We planned, invested and implemented our vision in the face of many challenges, of fierce skepticism and sometimes even of outright disbelief that we could deliver on our commitments.
“The World Cup was never about the hosting of a tournament, but rather about building a legacy for our country and our continent – a legacy in terms of amongst others infrastructure development, economic growth, skills development, job creation, nation building and brand awareness.
We as South Africans believed, and the world came to believe with us,” the Minister said.
Despite some flaws and exorbitant amounts tourists had to endure as a result of the price increment for accommodation, positive results were yielded.
World Cup results study indicated that more than 309 000 foreign tourists (309 554) arrived in South Africa for the primary purpose of attending the World Cup.
Of these arrivals, 38% were from our continent, followed by 24% from Europe, 13% from Central and South America and 11%.
He noted that in terms of land arrivals from within the continent, the top three source markets were Mozambique (24 483), Swaziland (19 593) and Botswana (16 387). In terms of air arrivals, the top three markets were Nigeria (4 324), Ghana (3 578) and Kenya
(2 089). The top three European source markets were the UK (22 802), the Netherlands
(8 741) and Germany (8 596).
The arrivals from the United States topped more than 30 000 (30 175), and we saw more than 12 000 arrivals (12 210) from Australia. In terms of Central and South America, the top three markets were Brazil (14 815), Mexico (9 680) and Argentina (8 757).
“The World Cup also attracted a large number of first time visitors to South Africa, particularly from the Americas (North, Central and South America). A total of 59% of arrivals to South Africa for the World Cup were first time visitors to this country,” Minister van Schalkwyk said.
“Furthermore, the total expenditure in South Africa by tourists who came specifically for the World Cup was more than R3.6 billion. Tourists from Europe contributed almost 25%
(R954 million) to this figure, followed by Central and South America (R641.1 million), land arrivals from our continent (R585.2 million) and North America (R555.1 million).
“The overall average spend per tourist was R11 800, which is notably higher than the annual average spend in South Africa in 2008 (R8 400) and 2009 (R9 500). More than 30% of the spend was on shopping, followed by 20% on accommodation, 19% on food and drink, 16% on leisure and 11% on transport,” the Minister said.
Further highlights include, the average length of stay by tourists was 10.3 nights, with tourist from Australia staying the longest, followed by those from North America and Europe; a total of 79% of tourists stayed in paid accommodation, with 21% staying with friends and family; Gauteng, which hosted the majority of the matches, was the most visited province during the event with more than 220 000 (223 039) tourists visiting the province; this is followed by the Western Cape with more than 108 000 tourists (108 384) and KwaZulu-Natal with more than 83 000 (83 819).
Minister van Schalkwyk said the tourism industry should be particularly encouraged by the findings on satisfaction levels and continue to take steps to capitalise on this positive effect of the World Cup.
“The survey results show that more than two thirds of the tourists who visited South Africa during the World Cup rated the country as an extremely good host, with a further 29% rating the country as good. More than half of the tourists who had attended other World Cup events in the past also felt that South Africa was a better host than other countries they had experienced.
“Tourists were highly satisfied with their visits, and 72% rated their experience as extremely good. More than 90% of tourists said their experience of the country was better than they had expected before arriving.
“Very importantly, almost 90% (89%) of tourists said they would consider visiting South Africa again in the future, while 96% said they would recommend the country to their friends and relatives. This is an extremely positive vote of confidence in our destination, our capabilities, our facilities and our people,” Minister van Schalkwyk said.
Brand awareness, the survey shows that globally there has been a significant improvement in South Africa’s brand after the World Cup.
Total awareness of South Africa as a leisure destination increased by 9% following the event, and the intention to visit South Africa in the short term increased by a significant 35%.
More than a third of tourists mentioned publicity associated with the World Cup as their first source of awareness of the country, showing the far-reaching impact of the event.
Minister van Schalkwyk said the World Cup was a major milestone in South Africa’s tourism growth and it cemented a foundation for sustained investment and growth in the tourism industry.
“We are very pleased to note from the report that South Africa is indeed enjoying increased international positive exposure directly because of the World Cup. From our latest tourist arrivals figures, released this week, we also see that beyond the World Cup our arrivals are continuing to grow strongly.
“Tourist arrivals from January to September 2010 increased by 16.8% compared to the same nine months in 2009. From January to September 2010 we saw more than 5.9 million (5 944 568) tourist arrivals, compared to about 5 million (5 087 634) last year. Growth for the month of September 2010 was 12.9% compared to September 2009, with a total of more than 650 000 (658 565) tourist arrivals,” Minister van Schalkwyk said.
“I have no doubt that South Africa is reaping the rewards of hosting the Cup. The tournament has positioned South Africa as a viable investment market and the spin-offs of improved perceptions abroad could have a long-lasting impact not only on South Africa and its development but on the continent as a whole,” Minister van Schalkwyk concluded.
Stuart Masela, Absa sponsorship manager said he was happy with the findings of the tourism survey and also mentioned that, it will have good impact and fruitful appeal on the sporting front since the country has now become an ‘in- thing’ for every major sporting spectacle to be held here.