World Cup: Hopes that South Africa’s hospitality industry will have a bumper off-season this year due to the World Cup were dealt a blow last week after it was revealed foreign football fans are unlikely to arrive in the numbers expected.
Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke said that only 2.1 of the 2.9 million match tickets have been sold so far.
“We had expected 400,000-500,000. It will be less. How much less? I have no idea,” Valcke said in Zurich before travelling to South Africa.
A combination of the world recession, a fear of crime and steep ticket prices has been blamed for the lack of interest shown by fans of the 32 countries competing in the tournament, being held for the first time on the African continent.
In response, Fifa has decided to make some of the match tickets previously earmarked for the international market available locally.
In a bid to ensure all the games are well-attended, a number of international tickets will now be converted into category-four seats, the specially-priced tickets for locals.
Eleven per cent of stadium capacity is currently made up of category-four tickets but Fifa wants to increase this to 20 percent for most games.
A huge drive is on to get South Africans to buy more tickets. In his recent state-of-the- nation address, president Jacob Zuma called on locals to support the games in order to honour former president Nelson Mandela.
“Mandela was central in assisting the country to win the rights to host this great event. We therefore have to make the World Cup a huge success in his honour,” said Zuma.
With a little over 100 days to go before the games begin, the preparatory work that goes into hosting a successful tournament is still under way.
However, organisers believe everything will be ready for the opening match on June 11th.