SA Sporting Opportunities Would Be A Great Tourism And Economy Boost

'How can hospitality players around the world, and, more specifically, in Cape Town and SA, do more to tap into this enthusiasm?'
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2018 FIFA World Cup gets soccer fans packing

Saint Petersburg in Russia was host to the opening game of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in its 68,000-capacity Krestovsky Stadium, and as a result got to play host to thousands of fans (and the teams themselves) who have travelled from across the globe for the soccer extravaganza. This gets me thinking, how can hospitality players around the world, and, more specifically, in Cape Town and South Africa, do more to tap into this enthusiasm?

Package deals and team support

Sports fans are quite liberal when it comes to indulging their various appetites when it comes to travel, so the profitability potential that comes with such events is tantalising. Without mixing too much of a sporting metaphor, when over five thousand fans of the English cricket team – the Barmy Army – descended on South Africa in 2015, for instance.

They benefited from an exchange-rate fluctuation at the time, as a result, they were big spenders. One report announced that they'd completely emptied a bar of stock within a few minutes. More importantly, their visit was said to have boosted the economy by an estimated R140-million.

To take advantage of these events it's important is that visitor experiences are consistently excellent and that appetites are whetted for repeat visits. Analysis has proven, for example, that in the case of business travel, 80 percent of conference attendees are likely to return to the conference destination with family for leisure travel within five years, so why not increase the likelihood of this happening among travelling sports fans?

Across Africa, there's huge growth in the demand for venues able to host business events such as conferences and trade fairs, and the hospitality market is evolving to meet those demands.

SA's sporting opportunities

Remember the FIFA World Cup 2010? That tournament did a great deal to invigorate tourism; apart from showcasing the country's beautiful environment, there was an immense leap in capacity development; our road networks, stadiums, airports and connectivity all enjoyed upgrades and improvements that have, to this day, yielded benefits.

This is possibly the most important sporting event to have taken place in South African history, but the collective influence of other tournaments and sporting events has revolutionised the travel scene. Rugby sevens, golf, cricket and more all drive local and international tourism, invigorating the hospitality sector.

Imagine, every international visitor is spending an average of a thousand rand per day on top of accommodation rates in a destination, and that international visitors stay (on average) for five to eight days, and you start to see the potential to grow this market.

Add another thousand visitors, and the growth to the economy would be well over a million rand – add 50,000, and the opportunities grow exponentially, including increased employment rates all the way from hospitality businesses down the supply chains.

The passion held in many African nations for soccer can boost hotel revenues during major tournaments such as CAF, for example.

Will we ever host an event of the magnitude of the FIFA World Cup again? Let's hope so. In the meantime, enjoy the spectacle on your screens.

As individuals, we're part of a bigger marketing strategy, each person is building on an existing platform, no matter whether that's in international media or on their social media platforms – the message must be consistent: come here, visit, stage your events here.

When tourism is healthy, the economic spinoffs allow for countrywide development, since resources can be allocated to improving transport networks, increasing capacity at the airports and enhancing places of accommodation to ensure that visitor preferences can be met, and expectations can be exceeded.

The goal is that we as locals will be ambassadors, and that happy, satisfied visitors will amplify that message. As local events gain traction, audiences grow. Take the Cape Town Cycle Tour, for example: from a couple of participants in the original event, today it entices global cyclists and thousands of fans. You have to wonder, is there another event like that with the potential to snowball in popularity?

If you'll recall, Cape Town was also the runner-up in a pitch for the Olympic Games. We're a competitive nation, so being a runner-up didn't go down too well, but if you look at the capacity development that has taken place, we could certainly offer a sweeter deal as a potential host city now.

The exchange rate that favours international visitors, as well as many airline and hospitality concerns offering loyalty programme incentives could be just the right mix to entice event organisers.

Will we ever host an event of the magnitude of the FIFA World Cup again? Let's hope so. In the meantime, enjoy the spectacle on your screens.