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The 2010 World Cup tournament was a gift that keeps on giving, with new, improved infrastructure, increased national pride and positive perceptions of South Africa overseas.
ONE year on, South Africa is still reaping the benefits of staging the first ever FIFA World Cup to be held on African soil.


A Bafana Bafana fan celebrates a goal at FNB StadiumA Bafana Bafana fan celebrates a goal at FNB StadiumAccording to Gillian Saunders, head of advisory services at Grant Thornton, an independent accounting and consulting firm, the 2010 World Cup helped to generate national pride, boost tourism and alter international perceptions about the country,

Saunders said the R40-billion spent on organising the event had brought about fundamental changes in infrastructure and contributed significantly to South Africa’s gross domestic product.

FIFA’s study of South African residents conducted in August last year revealed that 91 percent believe the World Cup united people, 94 percent said it had strengthened tourism and 88 percent concurred that the event had brought about improvements to roads and infrastructure.

Another survey of international visitors, conducted by market research company African Response, showed that 96 percent of World Cup visitors would visit the country again, while 92 percent of foreigners would recommend South Africa to friends and relatives, compared to just 88 percent that said they would recommend Germany after the 2006 World Cup.

“These stats definitely confirm our opinion that national pride and improved international perceptions of the country have been achieved,” says Saunders.

Foreign visitors

Thousands of foreign visitors came to watch the World CupThousands of foreign visitors came to watch the World CupGrant Thornton’s calculations and predictions, based on SA Tourism research and additional research collated by the firm’s advisory services team, show that some 350 000 foreign visitors spent around R8-billion during the World Cup, with a total economic impact of around R18-billion.

“Treasury has indicated that government chose to view the World Cup as a mechanism for helping South Africa to meet its developmental imperatives which incurred costs beyond the nation’s contractual obligations to FIFA ‘to ensure that South Africa invested in infrastructure with significant legacy value’.”

Saunders said both direct and indirect infrastructure developments and investments had provided a world-class stage for FIFA to host the World Cup. “Indirect infrastructure improvements for which the World Cup event was the impetus include upgrades to national roads, airport enhancements and the construction of the new King Shaka airport in KwaZulu-Natal, the Gautrain and Rapid Bus systems,” she said.

Direct infrastructure developments such as new stadia, enhanced transport options and road upgrades around stadia, improvements at border posts and points of entry, upgraded telecommunications infrastructure and improved security systems all led to a better quality of life, and provided long term, valuable assets to communities, Saunders said.

“But long term profitability of our stadiums is dependent on usability for a wide range of activities which will certainly need private sector involvement and structures which create a profit motive,” she added.

Tourism benefits

Improved infrastructureImproved infrastructure: one of the World Cup gainsSaunders said all World Cup-related improvements underpinned economic and tourism growth. “We need to leverage policing and delivery lessons learnt a lot more to glean greater benefits for South Africa’s services sector. And we haven’t got the profitability of the stadia right yet,” Saunders said.

She said while immediate tourism benefits and the boom predicted post the World Cup still seemed non-existent, a large number of tourist businesses would not have survived the economic slump if it weren’t for the boost provided by the event. “We think the slow growth currently being experienced in our tourism industry following last year’s event is a result of the international economy taking longer than expected to recover from the global recession and this is significantly curtailing international travel,” she explained.

One of the biggest benefits from last year’s FIFA World Cup was the togetherness and national pride the event generated, she noted. “The way South Africans welcomed, feted and hosted the visitors and enjoyed the event helped to generate the most wonderful atmosphere in this country – from supporting Bafana and Ghana to Flying the Flag and supporting other teams and campaigns. This welcoming, real interest and fun dimension made the event an even greater consummate success,” she said.

In addition, the match between South Africa and Uruguay had attracted an average of 10.15 million viewers, beating previous viewing records for the 1995 Rugby World Cup final and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 semi-final. On average, each match was watched by almost 70-million people at home, and about 32-billion viewers worldwide watched the World Cup on TV, with FIFA allocating 14 minutes per game – two minutes per game of which was spent promoting South Africa.

“That is R1.5-million worth of advertising,” said Neil Higgs of TNS, market research and business analysts. This combined with tweets, online and print, pushed the figure to R2-billion, Higgs said.

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