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February 16, 2009

Cape Town beyond the 2010 FIFA World Cup


Green Point Stadium, photo courtesy Ian Junor

“Cape Town needs to be not only a great place to visit but a fantastic place to live,” said Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, at a recent meeting of Cape Town businesses and organisations. “Our vision stretches beyond 2010 towards 2020, to make sure that Cape Town is positioned strongly as one of the world’s most iconic cities, and that this is reflected in the economic wellbeing of every citizen.”

Speaking at the Cape Town Partnership 2010 Forum, an independent collaboration between the private and public sectors, Du Toit-Helmbold stressed the importance of looking beyond the actual event of the 2010 FIFA World Cup to the legacy it will create for Cape Town and South Africa as a whole. If the World Cup is to be a foundation for sustained tourism and economic growth, it must be a spectacular event.

To that end, Cape Town Tourism has developed a 2010 visitor strategy as well as a series of tourism project plans which are awaiting official approval by the City of Cape Town.

“Ultimately this event is about tourism and the visitors it brings to Cape Town,” said Du Toit-Helmbold. “We are going to be inundated with many people who would not otherwise have visited our destination. We have an opportunity to show the world that we are professional, run great businesses, and have a great destination to invest in for the future.

“Unlike Germany, we don’t have to prove that we’re a friendly bunch of people, but we do have to prove that we can pull this off and do so brilliantly.

“I always say that a lack of confidence in who we are as a people and as a city is one of our biggest stumbling blocks for economic growth. It’s high time that we, as citizens, backed up Brand Cape Town in a much greater way,” she continued.


An aspiring soccer star, photo courtesy John Mitchell

While Cape Town ranks as one of the top cities internationally and is a hugely popular tourist destination, the challenge it faces with the World Cup is catering for a type of visitor very different from the usual leisure tourist or business traveller – the soccer tourist.

“We need to make sure that we can accommodate all these people and meet their unique expectations,” said Du Toit-Helmbold.

With the upgrading of visitor services, new and improved infrastructure, attention to safety and security, and the creation of a sustainable and green Cape Town, the city is on its way to achieving this goal. 

Cape Town Tourism takes a realistic view of the greatly anticipated event, however, acknowledging that there can be a negative aspect to events of this scale.

“There is another side to major events that we’ve seen in cities like Athens and Sydney – often people have the perception that with them come price increases, over-crowding and the serious issue of displacement. Many people who would have come on holiday here might decide to holiday elsewhere because they don’t want to deal with the congestion. So we’ve got to balance all the amazing things that go with the World Cup with the negative aspects, plan effectively and deal with them upfront,” continued Du Toit-Helmbold.

“Statistics on Sydney’s tourism arrivals following the Olympic Games showed a significant dip, and it took a long time for that growth pattern to heal. It’s important to learn from other host cities so that we can deliver a successful event and use it for sustained growth.”


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