by David Capel


Pulling in the crowds


As expected, hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup sparked a South African tourism boom, with private business also geared up in anticipation of the hordes of followers attracted to the event. And other major sports events have played their part, too.

According to a report on, the World Cup attracted 309 000 foreign visitors to South Africa, generating a staggering R3.64 billion for the economy. Foreign visitors stayed an average of 10.3 nights in South Africa, and spent an average of R11 800 per trip. More than 130 000 jobs were created, contributing R2 billion to low-income households.

Since the World Cup, foreign tourist arrivals to South Africa grew from 8.07 million in 2010 to 9.2 million in 2012, representing an increase of 12%.

The lasting value of the World Cup is impossible to estimate, but suffice it to say, it put South Africa on the world map more than any other event in history.

In an unprecedented move, the event saw FIFA giving accreditation to not only South Africa’s top-notch hotels, but also to selected game lodges, guesthouses and bed & breakfast establishments that obtained necessary star grading ratings from the Tourism Grading Council of SA. This meant South Africa could meet its objective of spreading tourism benefits beyond cities where matches were played and providing spectators with a wider range of accommodation options.

In addition, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique signed an agreement to share the tourism spinoffs of the World Cup through ‘border-free’ tourism packages.

Hier kom die Bokke!

The 1995 Rugby World Cup – probably the seminal event in South African sports history – saw 16 countries taking part and more than 27 000 foreign visitors pouring into the country.

Visitors from Australia increased by 54%, New Zealand by 112% and the French and British arrivals by 48% and 33% respectively. Over 160 000 jobs were created and R200 million was generated for South Africa’s economy.

The event constituted far more than a rugby competition. It was a joyous celebration of the abolishment of apartheid and signalled the emergence of a reunited nation. It brought South Africans together like no other event in history and is immortalised in the film, Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, based on the John Carlin book, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation.

The event’s echoes reverberate to this day, and the image of Mandela wearing captain Francois Pienaar’s number 6 jersey is indelibly carved into the nation’s collective memory.

From a sports tourism point of view, World Cup 1995 set the tone. Since then, other major sports events have been successfully hosted by South Africa, bringing in billions in revenue and further establishing the country’s reputation as an excellent sports destination.

The 2003 Cricket World Cup saw 14 countries taking part and attracted 20 000 foreign visitors. New Zealand and Indian arrivals showed a 64% increase. More than 3 500 new jobs were created, generating over R1 billion.

For its part, the 2009 Indian Premiere League injected between R1 billion and R2 billion into the South African economy. Up to 40 000 hotel rooms and 10 000 domestic flights were booked for the tournament. The IPL provided R10 million in scholarship funds to 300 students and 32 schools across the country, and 10 000 Indian cricket fans visited the country.

During the same year, the British & Irish Lions rugby tour attracted 20 100 foreign visitors to South Africa, generating over R309 million for the country’s economy. Foreign visitors stayed an average of 14.3 nights in SA and spent an average R1 520 per day.

British Airways estimates that some 40 000 rugby fans flew to and from SA over the six weeks of the tour, translating to a 24% increase over 2008.

To a tee

The growth of golf tourism is widely seen as another way in which South Africa can boost tourism and continue to outperform global tourism growth figures. SA has more than 500 golf courses of international standard and a strong reputation for being able to pull off big tournaments.

A recent golf tourism seminar in Limpopo explored the benefits of punting South Africa as a golfing destination. The seminar brought together stakeholders from both the tourism sector and the golf fraternity to discuss how the sport could contribute to South Africa’s growth potential.

Peter Walton, president of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, says there is no doubt that golf can play a significant role in boosting the tourism sector.

“There are 54 million golfers worldwide, of which 25% will definitely take golf holidays in the next 12 months and spend 120% more per day in their destination than a general leisure tourist.

“Golf is not an amenity or an excursion, but a primary driver of incremental tourism,” Walton says.
The Department of Tourism estimates the South African golf industry generates total revenue of R29.2 billion annually and creates more than 50 000 jobs – the overall worth of the industry could be around R58.4 billion.

Interest is growing

The department says interest in sports tourism has increased significantly following the 2010 World Cup.
“More than 10% of foreign tourists come to South Africa to watch or participate in sport events, with spectators accounting for 60-80% of these arrivals,” the department said.

Deputy Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa said golf tourism “is an important segment of the overall tourist market, both in terms of volume and spending per visitor”. This was because it could drive significant investment in resort developments, “generating substantial
economic growth and job creation”.

Xasa wants to gather “innovative ideas” on building golf tourism in South Africa and she is expecting a comprehensive and co-ordinated framework for promoting golf tourism,
capitalising on the existing positive footprint.

The department said it viewed sports tourism as “a potential niche market” and it plans to embark on formulating a guideline “that will inform the provinces and the tourism sector on how to best utilise golf tourism to market South Africa as a golf destination”.

The KwaZulu-Natal tourism department agrees that sport tourism has enormous potential for further growth. “Quite obvious are the links between the hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism networks – highlighting the interplay between these markets and the economies of the driving countries.

“Sport tourism is a fast-growing industry, with South Africa benefiting from this trend after successfully hosting three World Cup events – the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 2003 Cricket World Cup and the 2010 Soccer World Cup – among other major international sports events,” the department said in a recent statement.

Major international sports events hosted by South Africa in recent years include:

• • 2012 Africa Cup of Nations

• • 2010 FIFA World Cup

• • 2010 BMX World Championships

• • UCI MTB World Cup

• • 2009 ICC Champions Trophy

• • 2009 British & Irish Rugby Lions Tour

• • 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup

• • 2009 Indian Premier League

• • 2007 World Twenty20 Championships A1 Grand Prix (since 2006)

• • FINA Swimming World Cup (since 2003)

• • Red Bull Big Wave Africa (1999–2008) six-star rated surfing events (annual)

• • 2006 Paralympic Swimming World Champs

• • 2005–2008 Women’s World Cup of Golf

• • 2003 President’s Cup

• • 2003 Cricket World Cup

• • 1999 All Africa Games

• • 1996 World Cup of Golf

• • 1996 African Nations Cup

Meanwhile, major national sports events include:

• • Nedbank Golf Challenge

• • Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour

• • Absa Cape Epic

• • Two Oceans Marathon

• • Dusi Canoe Marathon

• • Soweto Marathon

• • Vodacom Challenge

• • Comrades Marathon

• • 94.7 Cycle Tour

• • Vodacom Durban July

• • J&B Met

• • Nelson Mandela Challenge

• • Nedbank Cup

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Issue 64


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