With less than 200 days to go before the FIFA 2010 World Cup, host country South Africa is promising “a celebration like you´ve never had before”.
Tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, speaking at EIBTM in Barcelona, delivered the message that construction of new venues and infrastructure was on track, with €3bn invested by the government in these projects, back by a further €2bn from private investors.
“June/July will see the biggest sporting event yet on the African continent,” the minister said, stressing the “co-ownership” of the event for the rest of Africa.
Van Schalkwyk promised to deliver not only the 55,000 rooms demanded by FIFA for international visitors, but an extra 100,000 graded rooms across the country.
Asked about the business tourism legacy, the minister predicted €7bn in economic spin-offs from hosting the World Cup in South Africa.
“For many years, South Africa was reliant on nature-based tourism so we understand that we must diversify. Our objective is to be one of the top 10 countries in the world for the MICE industry within a few years.”
A number of stadia are set to announce European management contracts, the minister noted.
Van Schalkwyk revealed South Africa Tourism would be rolling out a plan for attracting international events in 2010. “We will be bidding for a lot of international conferences and events to properly utilise our infrastructure investments.”
Questioned on the threat of crime to the plans to boost business tourist numbers, the minister said 41,000 trained police officers would be on duty at the FIFA World Cup, adding that 95 per cent of crime in South Africa was domesticated, although admitting “certain areas are not safe”.