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April 8, 2010

Americans Lead Ticket Tally As South Africa Readies For World Cup

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

New York, New York – Reported by Elite Traveler, the Private Jet Lifestyle Magazine

South Africa is planning to continue its play for elite travelers as it leverages the World Cup in June and July.? Coming off a four percent increase in visitors in 2009 despite a worldwide decline in tourism, Minister of Tourism Marthinus Van Schalkwyk and Chairman of South African Tourism Jabu Mabuza were here this week courting the travel industry and media ahead of the big event.

Speaking to the press during a lunch at Le Cirque, Van Schalwyk emphasized “The big event is not enough” and said the country plans to continue its aggressive promotion after the tournament. Despite soccer’s second class status in the U.S.A. the Minister noted that America is actually number one in ticket sales for the FIFA World Cup.? He said sales figures exclude corporate sponsor ticket allocations and are a good indicator of the interest Americans have in South Africa.

Bucking the trend of declining visitor counts, Van Schalwyk claimed South Africa has one of the world’s highest repeat factors helping insulate itself against the downturn.? He said more upscale hotel and resort development is continuing with the entry of Indian group Taj into the market following the acclaimed One&Only Cape Town and Red Carnation’s restoration of the Oyster Box in Durban.? New projects from Fairmont and the country’s first J.W. Marriott are in the works.

South African Tourism President North America Sthu Zungu noted that for the World Cup there will be numerous special events, including world class entertainers who will be doing special shows, including a concert featuring Alicia Keys.? On the high end Van Schalwyk noted that airports are making special accommodations for private jets while Mabuza noted a Ministry study of potential price gouging found only a small number of one-off incidents. Police staffing will also increase from 175,000 to 190,000 to enhance security and safety for visitors.

With the Quarterfinals split between Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg leading to the semifinals and then finals in the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, Van Schalwyk noted that visitors will find the weather varying from cool in the mornings to mild and even hot despite it being Winter.

All together, the World Cup is expected to generate as many as 400,000 visitors helping South Africa crack the 10 million visitor mark for the first time.? With over 30 billion viewers via television worldwide and a plan for a continued promotional effort afterward, both Minister and Chairman expressed optimism that South Africa will continue to build its tourism arrivals and revenue.

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