World Cup to give SA economy a massive boost

By Staff Writer
It's expected that foreigners will inject about R13-billion into South Africa's economy when they come to the country during the World Cup. According to a recent study, this will boost economic growth by 0.5 percentage points.

While fewer foreigners are expected than initially forecast, those who do visit the country will spend a lot more than tourists did during the tournament in Germany back in 2005.

This information was released in a study by accounting firm Grant Thornton. There are less than 50 days to go before the tournament kicks off but the global economic crisis and the international media's sensationalising of crime in South Africa are all factors that have impacted on tourists coming to the country.

"We have revised the figures post the worldwide recession and major ticket sales phases, and some of the numbers are encouraging," Saunders said, presenting the study on the World Cup's economic effect," said Gillian Saunders, who led the study.,

It's expected that foreign fans will contribute about R8.8 billion to the economy during the tournament while spending by governing body Fifa will bring the total of the cash injection to R13-billion.

About 373 000 foreign fans are expected to visit South African shores for the tournament but just 230 000 of those are ticket holders, while this is higher than the recently estimated 230 000, it is well below the initial prediction of 450 000.

It's expected that about 85 000 fans from the rest of Africa and a further 20 000 form overseas will visit the country without tickets. These fans will opt to watch the games at urban fan parks on big screens where the atmosphere is expected to be captivating.

"We always thought people would come for more matches in South Africa, because it is a long-haul destination, but it seems to be a bit more than that," Saunders said.

On average, a tourist visiting the country will stay for about 18 days and watch five World Cup matches. It's expected that, excluding flights, these tourists will spend about R30 200 during their stay in South Africa.

The long-term benefits of the World Cup should not be underestimated, especially the benefit of modernising transport. While government spending has been vastly criticised and labelled as excessive, the infrastructure will leave a legacy and it will be used for years to come.

The country will be marketed by a global television audience which and, if the country is reflected in a positive light, this could be the biggest attraction for millions of tourists in the years to come.

"The profiling of South Africa and future spin-offs have always been the real benefit of hosting an event of this magnitude," Saunders said.

"It's going to be a great event ... volcanic ash willing," she added in reference to the Icelandic plume that has disrupted global air travel.

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