South Africa’s tourist industry may take a hit after FIFA admitted that the number of expected foreign visitors to this summer’s World Cup has halved and hotel reservations have been cancelled.
FIFA has admitted that less than half of the initial predictions of up to 500,000 tourists will be travelling to South Africa.
The fall will dramatically cut the economic boost South Africa was expecting from the month-long tournament, while tourism industry officials said that the figures were a disappointment.
“They are lower than we expected,” The Telegraph quoted Kagiso Mosue, Tourism Business Council of South Africa’s spokesman, as saying.
Michael Tatalias, Southern Africa Tourism Services Association’s Chief Executive, said: “It’s very disappointing, it’s certainly not what we anticipated a few years ago, but it’s inevitable because of the economic climate.”
However, Danny Jordaan, Chief Executive Officer of the local organizing committee, insisted that the tournament would be sold out.
“Of course we cannot compare with Germany [who hosted 2006] because it sits in the middle of Europe. South Africa is a long haul destination so we expect fans to come in and stay for a long period and therefore the (economic) impact will be greater,” Jordaan said.
According to previous estimates, the World Cup would bring two billion pounds into the South African economy.