Reflections on the World Cup

Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold and Cape Town Mayor, Dan Plato

Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold and Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato at the Cape Town FIFA Fan Fest.

We are half way through the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Although Bafana Bafana has bowed out with dignity, South Africa has emerged victorious as hosts of the first African World Cup. Everyone is in agreement that this event has united South Africans like never before and the “gees” is vibrating across our country, spilling out onto streets and reaching the furthest community.

Ghana fans in Cape Town

Ghana fans going crazy in the Mother City.

I have watched Cape Town being transformed into a proud host city over the last few months – an iconic new stadium, new roads, upgraded public transport, a much improved airport and station, and a whole lot of gees. Capetonians have truly come together to celebrate and welcome the world to Africa’s greatest city! The Cape Town Tourism team is working tirelessly to provide information to thousands of fans that have descended upon the Mother City from all corners of the globe and the marketing team has hosted hundreds of media on specially arranged tours of Cape Town, making sure that the stories shared with the world reflect a city and people like no other.

Dutch fans in Cape Town

Dutch fans are among the dozens of nationalities that have descended on – and loved – Cape Town.

I have cheered with 25 000 Capetonians at the Cape Town Fan Park as Bafana scored the first goal of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, partied with fans in Long Street, walked the Fan Walk, shared Cape Town’s unique story with media from all over the world and watched the world’s best soccer players run onto the magnificent pitch of the Cape Town Stadium – it has been an eventful two weeks!

As we move towards the last half of the World Cup, I am thrilled to see the wave of negative news change into positive reflections of our country and our city. Our focus has never been on the short-term benefits of hosting this event, but rather on maximising the long-term benefits and changing the opinion the world has of us, changing soccer fans into South African fans. Just listening to the word on the street, feedback from the industry and media reports, we are succeeding in our mission.

I admit we would have liked to see more short-term benefits, more fans staying in Cape Town and Bafana Bafana playing in the semi-finals, but the games are not over and our task not complete. I want to call on the industry and the people of Cape Town to turn up the volume, to continue the celebration and to exceed expectations – this is the most important window of opportunity we have ever had and it will not come along again in a very long time. Just imagine the benefits that we will reap if just 1% of the visitors and the global audience return or decide to visit in the next four years…

Best of all, we have inherited a proud, united and much improved country – a better place to live and a better place to visit.

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