373 000 foreigners expected for World Cup

By George Thomson

Despite the global recession and South Africa's negative press recently, 373 000 football fans are still expected here for the World Cup.

And the overall economic impact of the event is expected to be about the same despite lower numbers, because fans will stay longer and spend more - about R30 000 per person - a major updated study has found.

"We have revised the figures post the worldwide recession and major ticket sales phases, and some of the numbers are encouraging," said Gillian Saunders, principal of Grant Thornton Strategic Solutions, the global auditing and consultancy firm that released the report.

About 373 000 foreigners were expected to come for the month-long football tournament, down from an estimate of 483 000 made two years ago, but higher than more recent estimates of 200 000 to 300 000.

There had been fears that high prices of travel and accommodation, allied with concerns about security, would keep many fans from strong markets like Europe and North America away.

Visitors were expected to stay an average of 18 days and spend about R30 200 compared to the 14 days and R22 000 predicted before.

World Cup fans were expected to attend five matches per person, up from the 3.4 matches previously expected.

But there was a sharp decline in the number of African fans expected to attend. Other African nations accounted for just 2 percent of current ticket sales. Saunders blamed a failure in distribution channels and unaffordable pricing.

Cape Town Tourism said at least 300 000 people would visit the Mother City during the tournament.

The report pegged the gross economic impact of the tournament at R93 billion, the majority coming from government spending.

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