Research by Google suggests that international visitors attending the Soccer World Cup also plan to do some sightseeing in SA.
The study, into the most searched-for tourist sites in SA over the past year, found a strong correlation between the top countries searching South African sites and the countries buying the most World Cup tickets.
Google found that India, the U K , the U S , Germany and Zimbabwe were the top countries searching for “South African tourism” on the web.
Figures by Fifa’s local organising committee on countries buying the most tickets placed the U S in first place, followed by the UK, Germany, Australia and Brazil.
The most searched-for sights in order are: Kruger National Park; the Garden Route; Wild Coast; Robben Island; Cape Peninsula; Blyde River Canyon; Cape Winelands; Durban beachfront; Mandela house and the Apartheid Museum.
Domestic tourism might take a back seat during the soccer tournament, however. Advisory and research firm Grant Thornton, which recently conducted a study commissioned by the government into accommodation prices during the World Cup, said last month that domestic tourism was likely to be softer over this winter, as foreign fans displaced local visitors during the soccer tournament.
It said business travellers were likely to postpone their domestic travel plans until after the World Cup and families were likely to stay at home during the school holidays, scheduled during the game.
The firm said it expected between 300000 and 480000 foreign fans — 151000 from Africa — to arrive in SA for the tournament, and spend R8,5bn. Early forecasts of up to 750000 visitors at the World Cup are now considered unrealistic.
The study by Grant Thornton found that contrary to speculation, 74% of SA’s accommodation establishments were not hiking rates substantially for the World Cup.
The most popular sites for domestic tourists are very similar to those selected by foreign visitors. Last year, Google teamed up with South African Tourism to poll the tourism spots most popular among local tourists, eventually selecting 20.
Those sites included the Kruger National Park; Blyde River Canyon; Cathedral Peak; Addo Elephant Park; Simon’s Town and Boulders Beach and the Apartheid Museum.