19 September 2008

South Africa: Plenty of Room for 2010, Tourism Bodies Insist

Both South African Tourism and the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) stated emphatically yesterday, Thursday, 18 September 2008, that there is no question at all that South Africa has more than enough accommodation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

This was in response to statements made by FIFA president Joseph S Blatter on the SABC2 programme Morning Live yesterday, in which he said there was insufficient accommodation in SA for 2010 fans.

Moeketsi Mosola, CEO at SA Tourism, said the organisation is investing just over R200 million in a global destination marketing campaign aimed at attracting as many visitors as possible to South Africa, as well as marketing South Africa as the host nation for the world cup. This is all part of SA Tourism's stated ambition to welcome 10 million visitors to South Africa by 2010.

"We are determined and we are confident. We would not have invested the nation's money in marketing on this scale if there was any doubt at all around capacity for 2010.

"Besides, 2010 is not seen, and never has been seen, as an end itself for tourism. It is but a milestone, albeit a significant milestone, in the development to maturity and full global competitiveness of the industry and the destination."

SA has almost 100 000 graded rooms, he continued. "Most of these rooms are in and around the host cities. FIFA needs only 55 000 graded rooms for the 2010 championship. There are graded rooms to spare in SA, and everybody who comes for the World Cup will find a place to stay easily."

According to the press statement from SA Tourism and TGCSA, MATCH (the services company contracted by FIFA to provide accommodation) requires 55 000 rooms for championship visitors. However, MATCH has so far managed to contract only approximately 28 000 rooms as some members of SA's hospitality industry chooses to market its products and services independent of MATCH for 2010.

However, the fact that MATCH had managed to so far contract only 28 000 rooms to date did not mean that there was insufficient accommodation capacity in South Africa for 2010.

"In fact," pointed out Thembi Kunene, CEO at the TGCSA, "we have almost 100 000 graded hotel and non-hotel rooms and we grade in the region of 150 establishments a month. SA attracts between 500 000 and 600 000 visitors a month in the normal course of business, and there is ample accommodation for these people. There is no question at all that the industry will be able to accommodate 2010 arrivals... and accommodate them easily and comfortably."

Mosola, however, cautioned the SA accommodation industry to be sensible around 2010 pricing policies and structures. One of this destination's most compelling benefits is the outstanding value for money it offers visitors, he noted. If accommodation providers inflate rates beyond what is reasonable for 2010, they will do much to erode this benefit, damage the destination's hard-won reputation for affordability and impact negatively on tourism arrivals in the medium to long term.

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