How quickly time flies by. It is hard to believe that two years have elapsed since the last vuvuzela was blown at a festival that focussed the eyes of the world on South Africa. So what was the lasting legacy of Fifa 2010™ for our nation’s tourism and what does the future hold?
Following the climax of the tournament the Fifa™ website commented on research conducted by South African tourism that suggested the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ had not only brought a tourism boon but had also changed the mindsets of those who visited the country.
The report’s findings suggested that many travellers had been sceptical of South Africa prior to visiting based on perceptions generated through media coverage and that the new thought trains would be one of the biggest legacies of the tournament.
It is believed that just over 300,000 tourists visited South Africa to watch the football event and that of course was at a time of global economic instability. Further encouragement was gleaned from feedback indicating that as many as 90 per cent of the visitors were keen to return to South Africa and were willing to recommend the country to friends and family.
The report indicated that a total of 309,554 foreign tourists arrived for the primary purpose of attending the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ between June and July and those tourists spent about R3.64 billion during their stay.
The study also revealed that the most visited provinces were Gauteng (Johannesburg, Pretoria), Western Cape (Cape Town) and KwaZulu-Natal (Durban) and that aside from watching the footballs, tourists most enjoyed shopping and nightlife. It was felt that the tournament did help to improve perceptions about South Africa’s safety and security and that the country offered value for money as a destination.
Following the event, Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk announced that tourist arrivals in South Africa during 2010 showed a record increase of 15.1%.
“In 2010 we saw more than 8 million tourist arrivals to the country compared to just over 7 million in 2009,” he stated. “This compares very well in international terms. Figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) show that global tourism arrivals is estimated to have grown by 6.7% in 2010, which means that South Africa outperformed the global market by more than 8%,” the Minister explained.
The Minister said he was delighted with the strong growth figures, particularly in light of the global economic recession. However, he also said that it was important to acknowledge that the growth in the arrival figures could be attributed to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
“South Africa, in fact, recorded a peak in tourist arrivals between June and July 2010, which is traditionally our low season. The World Cup arrivals therefore represent about 4% of the total arrivals for 2010,” he added.
The Minister went on to suggest that the success of the World Cup was a victory for the tourism and hospitality industry but that this was just a starting point for tourism: “In terms of reaping the rewards of the World Cup, now is not the time to sit back,” he said. “I would like to call on the entire industry to continue to build on this positive affirmation of our country and to aggressively entrench our core tourism markets and attract exciting emerging markets.”
So what of the legacy? In April, Minister van Schalkwyk announced a 3.3% growth in 2011 international tourist arrival figures, despite the prevailing global economic worries.
The results showed that during 2011 the South African tourism industry attracted 8,339,354 international visitors.
At a media briefing to announce the latest statistics, The Minister said, “The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ was a once-in-a-lifetime global showcase for our country which gave us unprecedented international media exposure worth billions of dollars and left us with enhanced, modern world-class tourist infrastructure. However, while it was a wonderful opportunity that certainly gave us a big boost, the tourism industry never became complacent after its success. Instead, we used it as a catalyst to work even harder to sustain that tourism growth, to defend our core tourist markets and to tap into the potential of new tourism markets.
“I’m delighted to say that the hard work by all in the tourism industry, both in the public and private sector, has paid off as we recorded a 3.3% increase in our 2011 international tourist arrivals figures. If you exclude the nearly 310 000 people who travelled specifically for the FIFA World Cup™, then actual growth in 2011 was 7.4% above the rate of global growth of 4.4%. We are therefore extremely happy with the 2011 tourist statistics and optimistic about the potential for future growth in South Africa’s tourism industry,” he added.
The Minister noted that emerging markets such as India and China had radically influenced the numbers, as did arrivals from the African continent. While South Africa’s core markets in Europe and North America remain our major source of long-haul tourists, the country’s overall growth in 2011 was largely due to a 14.6% growth in the emerging markets of Asia (driven by growth of 24.3% from China and 26.2% by India in 2011).
At the same time European tourism figures did fall, a trend that seems to be an effect of the growing economic troubles in the Eurozone, however North American figures continued to ascend despite similar financial concerns.
The USA was one of the countries that saw the most fans travelling to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, with a 22.6 percent increase in U.S. arrivals to South Africa in 2010 as over 30,000 U.S. fans travelled for the tournament alone. Last year saw further growth out of the USA market, with a 1.9% increase in tourist arrivals seeing 287,614 U.S. tourists travel to South Africa in total in 2011.
“That we were able to maintain the massive increase in arrivals of 2010 and still grow even more in 2011 in an uncertain economy is evidence that the successful hosting of the tournament had an excellent impact on arrivals out of this very important market. It is also testament to the hard work by our team in the United States, in tandem with our trade and media partners,” said Minister Van Schalkwyk.
“Although the global economic financial crisis has not had a massive effect on tourism arrivals to South Africa, we have felt its effects in terms of length of stay and spend and look forward to seeing improving numbers in this regard as the world economy recovers,” said the Minister.
“From a marketing perspective, the challenge in 2011 was to leverage off our phenomenal brand awareness and positivity from the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, which was done across a variety of international platforms with the launch in May 2011 of the second phase of the successful 20 Experiences in 10 Days global campaign, which reached 1.2-billion consumers in 2011. As far as our brand was concerned, the focus was on developing a stronger emotional connection with South Africa and its people through our marketing work.”
“South African Tourism plays an active role in marketing the country, with 128 Joint Marketing Agreements in place across our key markets, with particularly successful partnerships in place in Germany, Brazil, the UK and at home in South Africa as well as globally with travel booking website Expedia,” explained Van Schalkwyk.
Looking to the future the Minister called for a renewed commitment by both the private and public sector to grow the tourism industry.
“Although there is good reason for optimism for the South African tourism industry the economic climate remains difficult and competition for tourist arrivals fierce. For South Africa to maintain its tourism arrivals we need to see a collective, robust approach by all in the industry to keep South Africa on its current growth trajectory. With this in mind we will gather in Durban for INDABA 2012 from May 12-15 under the theme of “Shaping our Future Together” building strong partnerships for continued, sustainable tourism growth, the creation of jobs and a greater contribution to the country’s economy from our industry going forward,” he concluded.