Welcoming the world

 

Cape Town Tourism started a “Cape Town welcomes you” city decoration campaign to make World Cup 2010 visitors feel welcome. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

The involvement of Cape Town Tourism had a profound influence in changing Cape Town’s image, where locals and international fans alike experienced the newly refined city. The warm welcome at the airport and all other major ports of entry initiated a series of positive experiences for fans and South Africans visiting the city. The great spirit and friendliness of Cape Town Tourism’s staff influenced the enthusiasm of tourists to explore and experience Cape Town’s magnificent and diverse attractions.

On Saturday 3 July 300 000 people gathered in Cape Town’s city centre to join in the excitement of the Germany vs Argentina quarter-final. This single mass gathering broke all 2010 World Cup records for attendance.

For visitors arriving at Cape Town International Airport, an exciting experiential Welcome programme awaited. At peak arrival times, a township marimba band, Hlanganani Musicians, played, Diski Dance displays were put on and giant puppets handed out Cape Town badges and welcome flags. In all, 50 hours of entertainment were rolled out, reaching approximately 70 000 visitors.

Farewells are every bit as important as welcomes, however, and Cape Town Tourism also secured extensive billboard space in the domestic departures terminal for farewell messaging like “We’ll leave a light on for your return” and “We hope you enjoyed meeting the locals”, with a call to action to book a return trip.

Fan Parks, Fan Walks and Fan Jols

Perhaps the most accurate measure of how Cape Town welcomed the world was the huge response to and in the various fan establishments away from Cape Town Stadium.

The stadium and surrounding area would not accommodate 68 000 fans arriving in their own vehicles, and this is where the Fan Park and Fan Walk were unique success stories for Cape Town. Locals and international visitors alike used public transport to come into Cape Town, and enjoyed the Fan Fest on the Grand Parade and the Fan Walk from the main station through the city up to the stadium.

The 2.6km Fan Walk is a pedestrian link along Darling, Strand, Adderley, Riebeek and Waterkant streets, through to Somerset Road, with dedicated pedestrian paths across Buitengracht St and Western Boulevard and Public Squares at St Andrews and the Stadium Forecourt within the Green Point Urban Park.

This route, which links directly to a vibrant night-time economy well served by pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels, connects the Cape Town Stadium to the Fan Fest and the transport hub on the Grand Parade, with the Cape Town Station en route. On the eight Cape Town match days, the route was abuzz with local street theatre and street vending activities, giving fans a glimpse of the cultural and gastronomic delights of the city.

By 7 July, 580 900 fans had used the Fan Walk.

The Cape Town FIFA Fan Fest, which was open every day of the event and could accommodate 25 000 people, was marketed as a “must” part of the Cape Town FIFA World Cup experience – “the most fun you can have without a ticket”. Every match day the Cape Town FIFA Fan Fest broadcast all the FIFA Soccer World Cup matches live on a 70 square-metre screen. Daily entertainment included shows from local artists and performances from African marimba bands, local DJs and new and emerging talent.

A staggering 525 615 people attended the FIFA Fan Fest™ throughout the event, with 44 315 fans attending the final game on 11 July. The record for attendance at Cape Town’s FIFA Fan Fest™ was 49 000 people on 6 July, when the Netherlands played Uruguay in the semi-final at Cape Town Stadium.

The Fan Jols were open on match days at the Bellville Velodrome, the Swartklip Sports Complex in Mitchells Plain, the OR Tambo Sports Centre in Khayelitsha and Vygieskraal in Athlone. A total of 164 529 people watched the games at the city’s four Fan Jols.

Cape Town Tourism’s YouTube channel showcased video footage of fans enjoying the Fan Walk, Fan Fest and key tourism attractions in Cape Town and provided a richer experience for viewers than photos and articles could do.

Media impressions

The media response to Cape Town was overwhelmingly positive. Prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, much negative reporting was targeted at Cape Town and South Africa, and a stance of Afro-pessimism pervaded international reporting.

Cape Town Tourism’s international PR representatives – based in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands – reported a complete reversal of this opinion in their markets over the World Cup period. Even the harshest critics had been turned into the most passionate ambassadors.

An excellent broadcast coup for Cape Town was the glass-box studio that the BBC installed on a rooftop near the V&A Waterfront for the duration of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Daily coverage came with a backdrop (mostly sunny with blue skies) of Cape Town, Table Mountain and the Cape Town Stadium - a priceless global advertisement for the destination.

The BBC’s coverage of Cape Town was also extensive, balanced and very complimentary. A total of 17.5-million British viewers tuned into the BBC to watch their country go up against Germany – with commentary from the Cape Town studio.

Lasting impressions

An exit survey of World Cup fans departing from Cape Town International Airport, conducted by the Provincial Government, showed that nine out of 10 Soccer World Cup visitors to the Western Cape felt “safe” or “very safe”, and visitors gave their World Cup experience an overall rating of 9.06 out of 10.

Cape Town Tourism conducted a series of weekly tourism industry surveys, for the duration of the FIFA World Cup™, to assess visitor footprint, behaviours, choices and trends, and to gauge industry attitudes.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the World Cup positively influenced perceptions of Cape Town, and that word of mouth reports by soccer fans who visited the city will have a positive effect on future business. According to tourism establishments surveyed by Cape Town Tourism, 86% of their World Cup visitors are considering a return visit to Cape Town in the future.

How did visitors respond to us?

“My trip to Cape Town was amazing,” said Edward Lawrence from the American CBS TV network. “I had this huge fear of visiting South Africa because I always heard it was dangerous for American tourists. My overriding urge to see the World Cup made me bite the bullet and book the trip to Cape Town. From the time I stepped off the plane in Cape Town I felt welcomed by the people there, from the cab drivers to the bed-and-breakfast owners. I was able to take advantage of being a tourist in Cape Town and it was amazing. I saw and experienced so much and will definitely return to Cape Town.”

Lawrence’s impressions are echoed time and again in feedback from his colleagues in the global media and from reports by ordinary tourists who came to watch the soccer and left loving Cape Town.

While short-term World Cup bookings were disappointing – they failed to deliver on peak season expectations, 90% of tourism businesses surveyed believed that the World Cup has been good for Cape Town’s long-term tourism growth.

The majority of Cape Town Tourism members surveyed agreed that the event has raised the positive profile of the city across the globe, and has countered both recessionary travel trends and seasonality.

Indeed, even the empty or not-fully-booked hotels, guesthouses or B&Bs are looking optimistic for the future – 75% stated that the 2010 FIFA World Cup TM will have a positive influence for their long-term goals.

“We have to follow up the raised profile that our city has garnered as a result of a highly successful World Cup with real, visible, accessible offers that speak to a world still battling their way through tough times,” says Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism. “We are in a unique and incredibly fortunate position to have seen so much positive coverage in the media this year. Now it’s up to us to convert that into tangible tourism results through showing that we offer great value.”

Countering seasonality

Seasonality is one of the greatest stumbling blocks in the development of Cape Town as a sustainable year-round tourism destination – and the World Cup went a long way to addressing this.

The majority of Cape Town Tourism members surveyed agreed that the event has countered seasonality by delivering a bumper winter in terms of international arrivals. 70% of Cape Town Tourism’s survey respondents said their guests found Cape Town’s winter weather to be better than expected, while 62% of respondents agreed that the FIFA World Cup™ has helped to counter seasonality in Cape Town.

Most accommodation businesses in Cape Town enjoyed better-than-usual winter trading. Average occupancy levels for the full duration of the event are estimated at 55%, at least 15% up on the same period for 2009.

Cape Town’s tour operators, too, had a better-than-normal winter season, reporting a 52% increase in bookings for the same period last year.

Some major attractions reported visitor numbers in excess of 2009 peak season figures and FIFA World Cup™ visitors are also reported to have spent up to four times as much as the usual winter visitors to Cape Town.

Deidre Hendricks, communications manager for ACSA at Cape Town International Airport, commented while these signature events will not take place every year: “It is clear that special initiatives during winter will help to drive the visitor numbers into Cape Town, thereby mitigating Cape Town’s seasonality effect.”

Converting soccer fans into Cape Town fans

With all the hard slog behind us, and the final whistle blown, it is now up to us to ensure that the visitors who came to watch the soccer will return to experience the city. Cape Town Tourism has a number of initiatives in place to ensure the momentum gathered over the course of the event isn’t lost.

Cape Town Tourism’s 2010 World Cup website will be restructured into an archive of this historic event and will provide an easy way for visitors and citizens to look back on the highlights of the World Cup, creating a legacy and continuing to drive traffic. Further development of the website will continuously improving the user experience in line with global best practice. The Cape Town Fan Page has created a cultivation pool of more than 85 000 fans to which we can now sell a new dream.

The social media played a big role in converting soccer fans into Cape Town fans, in particular Cape Town Tourism’s “I ♥ Cape Town” Facebook fan page, which grew from 60 000 fans in May 2010 to over 80 000 by 12 July 2010. Cape Town Tourism will now be able to keep in touch with World Cup visitors and inform them of destination marketing campaigns via this effective social networking community.

Other social media that were successfully utilised by Cape Town Tourism included Twitter, a powerful social-media channel that offers a fast-acting medium to source and promote news about Cape Town; YouTube; Flickr, which provides a large amount of visitor traffic to the website; and a plethora of blogs, both about the World Cup and about Cape Town.

Our Beenthere.TV units (at Table Mountain Cableway, the Cape Town Stadium and our flagship VIC in the city centre), which we have rented at a total cost of R70 000, encourage visitors to take their photos for free, and these are sent directly to a Cape Town destination webpage on the Beenthere.TV site for retrieval. Visitors can send these images to their social networking groups via the Beenthere.TV site, creating an effective viral marketing mechanism, while a link on the Beenthere.TV website also encourages visitors to join the I ♥ Cape Town Fan Page, thus capturing these fans into a ‘cultivation pool’ for future destination marketing campaigns.

Cape Town’s World Cup visitors were mainly from traditional key source markets such as the UK and USA, Germany and the Netherlands, but there were significant inflows from new markets, particularly South America and the Far East. These are key new source markets for Cape Town’s tourism industry and there are immediate plans to continue conversations that have already begun with both the media and trade in these regions.

With around 3-billion people globally reported to have watched international broadcasts of the FIFA World Cup™, Cape Town Tourism projects that if just a half of a percent of those people decide to visit Cape Town over the next five years, Cape Town could grow the city’s current international tourism arrivals of 1.8-million visitors per annum by a further 3-million international visitors per annum.