SWC visitors 'to stay longer'

2010-04-21 13:19
Johannesburg - Visitors to South Africa during the FIFA World Cup will stay longer and spend more, according to global audit and advisory firm Grant Thornton on Wednesday.

"We have revised the figures post the world-wide recession and major ticket sales phases, and some of the numbers are encouraging," said Gillian Saunders, principal of Grant Thornton Strategic Solutions in a statement.

Although Grant Thornton's projected number of World Cup visitors was 373 000, down from 483 000, it was expected that many of the visitors would stay longer and spend more.

"Indications are that overseas tourists will stay an average of 18 days compared to the 14 days used in the original projections," Saunders said.

Average overseas tourist spend per trip was also forecast to be up, at R30 200 compared to the R22 000 predicted before.

The average spend forecast was based on an analysis of current tourist spends in South Africa as well as dipstick surveys of potential visitors and expenditure by visitors to South Africa for other sporting events such as the Lions' Tour.

Foreign World Cup visitors were expected to attend an average of five soccer matches per person, up from the 3.4 matches previously expected.

"This compares to an average of 2.6 matches attended by foreigners at the World Cup in Germany in 2006.

"Going to more matches means visitors are likely to stay in the country for a longer period and therefore, while daily spends remain similar, total trip spend increases."

She said it had to be understood that some 105 000 of the 373 000 visitors to South Africa over the period were expected to be non-ticket holders.

"This 105 000 is down 16% on the 125 000 non-ticket holders projected previously."

Saunders said a total of 228 500 overseas ticket holders were projected, accounting for 38% of ticket sales.

"Ticket sales to Africans account for only 2%, with 11 300 Africans holding tickets."

Originally, African ticket holders were expected to number 48 145, a difference of -77%.

"Given evidence of huge interest from the continent, this indicates that there has been a failure in distribution channels and unaffordable pricing," Saunders said.

The gross economic impact would be R93bn, with 62% expected to be generated pre-2010 and 38% during the course of this year.

She said foreign tourism would account for 16% of the gross impact.

"The majority of economic spend comes from national government's spend on infrastructure and some operational expenditure."

This had increased significantly compared to original budgets, from R17.4bn (2007) to R30.3bn, with a further R9bn or more spend from cities and provinces.

Net additional economic impact in 2010 was 0.54% of gross domestic product (GDP) -- comprised of an estimated 0.48% from net additional foreign tourism and 0.06% FIFA spending.

"This is significant, since GDP growth this year is estimated at 2.0% to 2.5% of which 0.5% is accounted for by a single event."

In terms of the World Cup impact on jobs, the figures were very encouraging, Saunders said.

The number of annual jobs sustained in total was 695 000.

Of these, 280 000 annual jobs would be sustained in 2010 and 174 000 by the net additional economic activity in this year.

This was an economic measure of equivalent annual jobs sustained by this amount of economic activity, and not new jobs created.

"We continue to be upbeat about the impact of the World Cup. The stadia will be full and it will be a great event."

She said the profiling of South Africa and future spin-offs had always been the real benefit of hosting an event of this magnitude.
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