NEW YORK – One year after hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa continues to celebrate the lasting legacy of one of the most successful World Cup events in history. This television triumph captivated global audiences and attracted thousands of visitors worldwide, propelling South Africa as a leading sporting country and a highly attractive travel destination. South Africa has since garnered countless travel awards and set tourism records, helping to bolster the economy and raise its global profile to a new level. All eyes are on South Africa as the country is poised for further growth with goals to increase foreign leisure travel to 15 million visitors annually, augment tourism revenue to $75 billion a year, and to create 225,000 new jobs by 2020.
“World Cup may be over but we’re still reveling in the profound positive effects this one event has brought to our country,” said Sthu Zungu, President, South African Tourism, North America. “As a chance to show the rest of world the rich and diverse beauty of South Africa like never before, World Cup was only the beginning. South Africa is resonating with millions of travel enthusiasts worldwide with record tourists in 2010, and leading as a global holiday destination – we’ve only just scratched the surface.”
A Foundation for More Growth
South Africans united in national pride and achieved the seemingly impossible in an effort to showcase South Africa in the best light. The country invested more than a billion dollars in preparation for the World Cup, which began in 2004, to create new and improve upon existing infrastructure. In only six years time, South Africa built two new stadiums and upgraded eight existing venues in each of its dominant cities. The country invested $1.8 billion in road work, airport upgrades and highway expansions, and another $40 million in telecommunications improvements. In June 2010, South Africa unveiled the Gautrain, Africa’s first high-speed urban train that transports passengers from the airport into Johannesburg in under 15 minutes and onward to Pretoria.
Positive Impact on Tourism
South Africa’s tourism contribution directly affects the country’s economy, so much that for every 12 foreign tourist arrivals, one new job is created. Tourist arrivals from the U.S. increased by 22.6 percent in 2010 and have continued to increase over 18 percent into 2011. The result of the World Cup provided a $5 billion boost to the economy. Additionally, South Africa’s surge of visitors outperformed every region in the world by eight percent, most remarkably during the world’s most severe financial crisis. Tourism is pivotal to South Africa’s job creation, listing it as one of the top job drivers for economic growth.
Additionally, consumers and industry professionals have voiced their appreciation of South Africa by rating it as the most desirable international destination. Recent awards include being ranked number one in the “Top 25 Destinations in the World” by TripAdvisor® 2011 Travelers’ Choice® Destinations awards, Travel Weekly 2010 Readers Choice Award for best Africa Destination, Performance Media Leisure Travel Leaders Awards 2010, Winner for Best Country Tourism Bureau in Africa/Middle East, Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards 2010, Winner for Top City in Africa/Middle East to Cape Town, HSMAI Gold Adrian Award for World Cup Marketing campaign and winner of 2011 Pinnacle Award within International Conventions & Visitors Bureau and Destination Marketing Organization category.
South Africa on the World Stage
In pop culture, South Africa has been a featured location in recent films and popular reality television shows including the biographical sports drama, Invictus; the sci-fi blockbuster, District 9; Blue Crush 2; as well as ABC Network’s The Bachelor. The awareness of South Africa continues with the launch of the latest James Bond novel that takes place in Cape Town, Carte Blanche and the production of Safe House, with Denzel Washington, which shot earlier this year in Cape Town. This ongoing attention and popularity has placed South Africa in the global limelight, bringing the country to the forefront of prospective travelers’ minds by showcasing the country’s diverse backdrops, including its majestic landscape, culture and people.
South Africa’s world-wide awareness and emerging presence further extends beyond its borders with admission in key global organizations. The country recently became a part of the BRICS nations and joined the ongoing World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Leaders for Tourism Campaign.
South Africa has recently unveiled a robust, multi-faceted broadcast, print and online campaign to compel potential travelers to “leave ordinary behind”. This tag line encompasses the new creative direction of the campaign, which highlights real people making new discoveries and memories distinct to South Africa. Further inspiring travel, special deals coupling unique excursions with accommodations and flights are available on www.southafrica.net.
Leveraging the positive changes brought by the World Cup, South Africa is prepared to capture more hearts and minds of travelers around the world and is poised for extraordinary growth.