An estimated 55,000 people gathered in Cape Town’s Long Street on Friday, December 4, with an additional 150-million viewers following on TV, to watch the highly-anticipated 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Final Draw. Flags of all countries waved as the expectant crowd waited for the big draw, but it was the South African flag that flew most prominently and proudly as Cape Town represented the country in spectacular fashion.
Now with the Final Draw results known and the full Cape Town match schedule available for review, we’re certain that your plans to attend the first African FIFA World Cup has begun in earnest. With this in mind, we’ve prepared a series of answers for questions you may have.
WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE?
Noisy, colorful, and enthusiastic! This is the first time a FIFA World Cup will be held on African soil. A soccer-loving nation, South Africa is also excited to be the host of its first international event of this magnitude. Don’t expect Germany, don’t expect Barcelona – this is Africa, where energy, spontaneity, and hospitality are the cornerstones of society.
WILL I FIND ROOM AT THE INN IN CAPE TOWN?
Yes. There are an estimated 70,000 beds available in the greater Cape Town area. Accommodation options range from six-star luxury hotels and private villas to bed and breakfasts and self-catering house hires. Many of the larger hotels have signed with FIFA booking agent MATCH. If you are looking for a direct booking, go to www.capetown.travel/2010 for some accommodation options. Whatever you do, make sure you book through some sort of reputable agency or recognized tourism association – you don’t want to end up sharing the bathroom with someone else’s granny, someone else’s kids, and someone else’s washing machine!
WILL I HAVE TO MORTGAGE THE HOUSE TO BE THERE?
Cape Town itself is not an expensive destination, but some of the packages on offer are. The primary reason for this is the guarantee that comes with booking a package. Guaranteed tickets to the game you want to see, accommodation, flights, and sometimes even hospitality included means you pay for the satisfaction of certainty. If you are doing it yourself, you will need to buy your ticket through FIFA. Cape Town’s tourism industry has generally agreed on a standard peak rate plus 17 percent. The local tourism authorities have done much work around averting mega-event greed.
ARE THERE FLIGHTS AVAILABLE?
Again, it is advisable to sort yourself out as soon as possible. Early indications are that some of the airlines are planning on charging higher-than-usual fees. One South African carrier, Mango, has publicly announced that it will not be hiking its fees during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
CAN I TRAVEL BETWEEN GAMES BY CAR?
South Africa is a large country – at 1,221 040km2, it is five times the size of Great Britain. Unless an extensive road-trip is part of your plan, you would probably choose to fly. Getting from Cape Town to Johannesburg is a 17-hour drive, while Durban to Johannesburg is about 7 hours. On the plane, a Cape Town-Johannesburg haul is about 2 hours and a flip from Durban to Johannesburg is about 50 minutes.
WILL I KNOW WHAT DO DO WHEN I GET TO THE AIRPORT?
Cape Town Airport has just undergone a R3-billion upgrade. It has won Best Airport in Africa seven years in a row at the World Travel Market. On arrival, passengers will enjoy a swift automatic baggage-sorting process, after which they will proceed to the Transport Plaza, from where they will choose their preferred route and mode of transport. Cape Town’s bus, coach, taxi, and shuttle systems have all been extensively upgraded. The point-to-point rapid bus system is on track for shuttling fans between the airport, city center, and stadium, and the central Cape Town Station has received a technical and aesthetic face lift, extending into a “park and ride” network that is designed to avert excess traffic on the roads.
WILL THERE BE TRANSPORT BETWEEN MY HOTEL AND THE GAMES?
Yes. Several point-to-point bus routes will be on offer, taxi fleets are on standby, and a reliable train service is available. The central city to the stadium area is largely pedestrianized.
WILL MY MONEY BE ANY GOOD?
Cape Town has a sophisticated banking infrastructure. Most retailers are equipped to handle Visa and Master cards and some accept American Express and Diners Club cards. Special condition licenses are being granted to several hotels to allow them to act as bureaus de change during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Cash is king, but credit is safer. Beyond the city and in the rural areas of South Africa, it is advisable to carry some cash. Cash is also necessary for parking fees and tips.
IS IT SAFE?
South Africa has hosted 140 international sporting events over the past few years and not one of these reported any serious crime incident. The South African Police Services are in overall control of safety and security but will work closely with disaster management and fire, cleaning, and transport services through joint operations centers. The whole stadium precinct will be locked down before the event, and entry will be tightly restricted.
The usual common-sense rules apply, of course. Watch your possessions, don’t carry original copies of your travel documents, limit the cash on your person and be aware.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WITH MY TIME IN CAPE TOWN?
Cape Town is a cosmopolitan city with much to offer. As the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ takes place in winter, fans should expect to take advantage of Cape Town’s excellent and diverse culinary offering. Five Cape Town restaurants feature on the S. Pellegrino World’s Top 100 Restaurants list.
A three-course meal price in an upmarket restaurant will range from R250-R550 per head with a good bottle of wine priced at an average of R120-R300. From the winelands to the townships, there are dining options that are unforgettable.
If shopping is on the agenda, you can choose between ingenious local craft, sexy local youth-culture and design goodies, collectable art, and fashion.
If you are interested in some adventure activity, Cape Town offers plenty. Rock climbing (indoors or out), walks, paragliding, horse-riding, shark cage diving, and helicopter flips are just some of the adrenalin adjusters to help you work off the food and drink.
Winter is also the best time to surf and kite-surf in Cape Town.
If you are still have a burning question about what Cape Town has in store for you this 2010 FIFA World Cup™, then make your way to www.capetown.travel/2010 and see if it is listed among the frequently asked questions (FAQs). If not, ask Cape Town Tourism directly on +27 (0)21 487 6800.