Pretoria — The FIFA 2010 World Cup will forever change the world's perception of South Africa says President Jacob Zuma.
Addressing the Tourism Indaba opening ceremony in Durban on Saturday Zuma said it is in the hands of South Africans to make the soccer spectacle kicking off on 11 June the best one ever.
"It is in our hands to unite our country, our continent and the world in a foot-balling feast. It is in our hands to recast our country as a nation of peace, a place of prosperity and a mainstay of progress on the African continent," said Zuma.
Zuma said the Indaba has for the past 20 years showcased the country's natural beauty and its friendly people adding that it has also ensured that this year, the country breaks the 10 million mark for tourist arrivals.
He said scores of tourists are expected to arrive in the country during the tourism low season and that the expected influx of people has led to the upgrading of facilities and skills in the tourism sector that will continue to exist even after the World Cup.
He further welcomed the 3.6 million job opportunities that will be created by the month-long spectacle.
"The World Cup has not only revitalised our economy, but also given impetus to infrastructural development and job creation," he said.
One of the benefits of the upcoming spectacle is the revitalization of the public transport network with over 9.6 billion dollars already having been spent on road infrastructure.
The other benefit is the Rea Vaya bus service operating between Johannesburg and Soweto transporting 20 000 people a day.
"It is this legacy that impacts upon the lives of the poorest of the poor that is most meaningful to us," said Zuma.
By 2020 South Africa will have over 85 percent of any city's population living within a kilometre to an Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network feeder or corridor.
Zuma also highlighted the legacy of the five brand new stadiums calling them the crown jewels of the World Cup.
"Together with our other five refurbished venues, they glitter across our landscape, a permanent legacy of the FIFA 2010 World Cup," he said confessing that the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban is one of his favourites.
"We are geared up to demonstrate to all that we will deliver the best soccer world cup ever. But a soccer game is only 90 minutes, the major part of our visitors" time will be spent in your hands," he said.