With the World Cup now come and gone, I think few people – South Africans included – understood the full implications of what an event of this size meant to the country – and the brand “South Africa”. In the months preceding the World Cup, South Africa was largely a building site, and any reference to the event was to do with high pricing and logistical complications. Now that it is over – and has been an overwhelming success – we can finally look back and assess the legacy of the World Cup, particularly from a tourism point of view.
The infrastructural benefits – while largely restricted to the large cities – are immediately apparent in the vastly improved road systems and airports, meaning access and transfer times have been improved.
The largest impact I feel from our point of view is the successful implantation of the high speed train (Gautrain) from OR Tambo International in Johannesburg to Sandton (Pretoria will be completed as part of phase 2). Launched days before the World Cup, it covers the distance in 12 minutes in fast, world class comfort and arrives in the heart of Johannesburg’s tourist areas. New hotels have sprung up to service the Gautrain stations, and it is going to change the way we sell the city, as previously many clients opted for airport hotels to beat the notorious Johannesburg traffic. Now the best restaurants, outdoor squares and shopping are within an easy ride. We will be sending out comprehensive info in the next few weeks on this – how we will include Gautrain tickets for clients, how transfers to hotels will work and feedback on the plethora of new hotels that have opened in the Sandton/Rosebank areas.
Durban too has seen a remarkable resurgence during the World Cup period, driven primarily by its iconic stadium a stone’s throw from the beach, and a R350 million beachfront boulevard, running for 5 kms from harbour side restaurants, along the best beaches the city has to offer and passing restaurants and bars en route, all the way to the stadium. With no less than 6 boutique hotels opened in the last 4 months, it also has opened the door for more creative hotel offerings which were sorely lacking in the past. Again – watch out for our comprehensive Durban mail out in the weeks to follow.
The World Cup has monopolised the tourism industry in South Africa for over a year and has absorbed much time and energies. With it behind us, we can now anticipate the benefits of the improved facilities, transport links and ultimately the exposure of South Africa as a destination.
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