Tourism Industry Positive about the Impact of the World Cup on Future Tourism Growth for Cape Town

The City of Cape Town is in the process of conducting a comprehensive economic impact survey on the FIFA World Cup™ in Cape Town, which will be released at a later stage. In the interim, Cape Town Tourism conducted a series of five weekly tourism industry surveys, for the duration of the tournament, to assess the FIFA World Cup™ visitor footprint, behaviours, choices and trends from week to week, and to gauge industry attitudes toward the FIFA World Cup™.

The following report is a summary of key findings.

Report overview

Visitor numbers and bookings in Cape Town for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, though significantly higher than those for the same period in 2009, did not live up to short-term expectations for a mid-year “peak season”. Nonetheless, Cape Town Tourism’s survey indicates that the tourism industry is taking a longer-term view and is confident about the impact the event will have on the city’s tourism prospects.

The majority of Cape Town Tourism members surveyed agree that the event has raised the positive profile of the city across the globe, and has countered both recessionary travel trends and seasonality by delivering a bumper winter in terms of international arrivals.

International arrivals to Cape Town International Airport for the FIFA World Cup™ window were up 24% on last year’s figures for the same period, and some major attractions reported visitor numbers in excess of 2009 peak season figures. FIFA World Cup™ visitors are also reported to have spent up to four times as much as usual winter visitors to Cape Town.

For the period June 11 to July 11, 2010, Cape Town Tourism’s network of 18 Visitor Information Centres reported a total increase of 47% in visitors to the centres in comparison with the same period last year – international visitor numbers were up by a staggering 71% and domestic visitors by 15%.

Cape Town International Airport arrivals

Reporting on the extended FIFA World Cup™ window of June 11 to July 16, 2010, Cape Town International Airport reported that the number of international arrivals in Cape Town was up 24% on the same period in 2009. This was due largely to the increase in chartered flights over and above the usual international flight schedule. Domestic arrivals were up by 8%.

The overall increase in arrivals to Cape Town by air for the FIFA World Cup™ period was up by 11% year on year. During this period, the airport’s busiest day was July 7 2010, when just under 27 000 passengers were processed.

Overall growth for both domestic and international movement during this period is 9%.

How Cape Town’s accommodation sector fared

Occupancy figures

Cape Town Tourism’s survey of member accommodation establishments revealed that the benefit of the 2010 FIFA World Cup ™ in the greater Cape Town metropole was felt to the greatest extent in concentrated areas near to the stadium, major attractions and Fan Walk/Fan Fest™ areas. This included the City Bowl, Green Point and Sea Point, the V&A Waterfront, Foreshore and Camps Bay.

Occupancy levels in the second two weeks of the tournament were significantly higher than those in the first two weeks of the tournament. Cape Town hosted a quarter-final match on Saturday, July 3, 2010 and a semi-final match on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 and visitor numbers peaked during these periods.

The average occupancy in the greater Cape Town metropole for the full duration of the tournament is estimated to be 55%, with a marked contrast in occupancy figures between establishments situated nearer to the World Cup hubs and those further away from the World Cup action.

Visitors travelled in small groups of two to four people and the average stay in Cape Town was short – three to four days.

•    Occupancy figures for the first half of the tournament

Occupancy levels in the greater Cape Town metropole for the first two weeks of the tournament averaged 40%. Establishments nearer to World Cup hubs experienced a 71% average occupancy for the first two weeks (around 20% up on the same period last year). In general, establishments further from the hub areas had disappointing bookings, with a third of them reporting occupancy levels of below 20%. Establishments reliant on regular domestic business travel were particularly hard hit, since domestic business travel was negatively impacted by the FIFA World Cup™.

•    Occupancy figures for the second half of the tournament

Bookings rose sharply (by at least 30%) over the last two weeks of the tournament, averaging around 70% for the greater Cape Town metropole for the duration.

In the final week of the games (survey conducted on 9 July 2010), occupancy levels in hub areas had risen significantly to an average of 90%, while respondents further afield in the greater Cape Town metropole were found to have a much-improved average occupancy of 61%.

How Cape Town’s attractions fared

Exceptional numbers at the V&A Waterfront
FIFA World Cup™ visitors in Cape Town were largely drawn to the most famous of Cape Town’s landmarks, likely due to the fact that stays were short – and soccer-focused.

The V&A Waterfront announced staggering figures for the period of the FIFA World Cup™ tournament. Three million people are said to have visited (an average of 115 000 per day) the attraction during the four weeks. By comparison, 60 000 visitors per day was the average for the same period in 2009 and the site attracts 87 000 visitors per day during December peak season.

Some 200 000 people were in attendance for the festivities on July 3, the quarter-finals. Approximately 50% of visitors to the V&A Waterfront during the FIFA World Cup™ were local Capetonians; 29% international tourists; and 21% South African tourists from other parts of the country.

Table Mountain Cableway does swift trade
The Table Mountain Cableway’s June 2010 figures were double those of the previous year and July has seen them reach over 50% of their target for the month within the first two weeks. Business was greatly helped by the generally good winter weather. Table Mountain Cableway CEO Sabine Lehmann noted that there was an increase in local trade over the weekends too.

Kirstenbosch figures up
Visitor numbers for the period of the FIFA World Cup™ were up by 11.5% on last year. This might be attributed to a sharp increase in international visitors (local visitor numbers to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden were in fact down on previous years). Some believe that this figure may in fact translate into an even higher percentage of international visitors if the drop-off in local visitors is taken into account. Visitors have been overwhelmingly positive, all saying that they loved South Africa and many said they would come back.

Cape Point a drawcard
Cape Point reports that it fared similarly to the average summer months. They opened an extra wetland park over this period, which is usually closed in winter. Staff report that most visitors were foreign men, and that many tourists commented that they enjoyed their stay and that Cape Town is more than they expected.

Most shopping centres enjoyed good trade
Shopping malls such as Canal Walk, Cavendish Square and the Cape Quarter experienced increased trade in varying degrees. Visitors enjoyed restaurants and coffee shops the most, and spend peaked for items such as foreign exchange, jewellery and cellular phones.

A mixed reaction from restaurants
Restaurants and bars closest to the stadium, city centre and Waterfront fared well, with full houses on many match days, before, after and – for those who screened the games live – during matches.

Restaurants without screens did not fare as well (unless they were renowned gourmet destinations in which the experience was focused on the food) and destinations further from the city centre relied on local trade alone.

Bars did well, with beer being a top seller.

How Cape Town’s tour operators fared

Cape Town’s tour operators reported a better than normal winter season, reporting a 52% increase in bookings for the same period last year. As with the accommodation sector, bookings for small groups of three or four people and last-minute bookings dominated.

By the midway mark of the FIFA World Cup™, surveys showed that Table Mountain Cableway (75%), the V&A Waterfront (65%), Robben Island (50%) and the Winelands (52%) were among the favourite tours being requested by international visitors.

During the peak tourism period of July 2 – 8, 2010, favourite tours were the Winelands (80%), Cape Point (75%), Table Mountain (70%) and Robben Island (40%). Other tours of interest focused on gourmet experiences, and safari experiences near to Cape Town.

Respondents to the Cape Town Tourism tour operator survey during this peak tourism week reported that 85% of their guests were price sensitive, either negotiating price, looking around for the best deals or asking for discounts.

Cape Town World Cup visitor trends

Last-minute bookings

Bookings were frequently last-minute, with 41% of survey respondents reporting that bookings came in only two weeks before occupancy. This could be attributed to a global trend toward last-minute travel, but it also suggests that fans were influenced by factors such as the progression of their teams; the noticeable shift toward positive reporting in the international media; visitor word-of-mouth and more affordable flight and accommodation deals offered during the tournament.

To capitalise on last-minute bookings, Cape Town Tourism ran a “Come to Cape Town” campaign for the full duration of the tournament, aimed at enticing Gauteng-based fans to make a trip to Cape Town, with the message “You haven’t seen South Africa if you haven’t been to Cape Town”, and a strong call to action highlighting the availability of affordable FIFA World Cup™ flights – in partnership with low cost airlines – and member accommodation. The specials page on Cape Town Tourism’s website had almost 2 000 page views during the first three weeks of the tournament.

Most visitors from the USA and UK

The greatest numbers of visitors were from Cape Town’s traditional key source markets, the USA and UK; these two groups were also the top two spenders, according to a report about international VISA cardholder’s spend in South Africa over the period of June 1 to July 10, 2010. The overall spend by VISA cardholders in South Africa was up by 79% year on year. VISA’s statistics show that most of the spend was for flights, accommodation, car rental, retail and restaurants.

Cape Town also enjoyed visits from a large contingent of Dutch and German supporters – both countries are traditional key source markets for the destination. Cape Town Tourism members report that, of their FIFA World Cup™ guests, people from the Netherlands accounted for 26%, while those from Germany made up 29%.

Word Cup creates potential for new markets

Particularly positive for Cape Town’s tourism landscape was the fact that many new visitors came to the city for the first time. Chief among these was an influx of South Americans, especially from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Other well-represented markets included Japan, Mexico, Algeria and Portugal.

New markets are key to tourism growth and Cape Town Tourism is currently identifying ways in which to “strike while the iron is hot” in all of these newly interested countries.

Price sensitivity

Cape Town Tourism’s members reported that 68% of their guests were price sensitive, wanting to barter room rates or shopping around for the best deals. The mid-range, three-star and upmarket backpacker accommodation sectors fared particularly well.

This price sensitivity reflects the impact of the global recession on travel trends. Says Cape Town Tourism’s CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold: “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. We are in a unique and incredibly fortunate position to have seen so much positive coverage on television this year. Now it’s up to us to convert that into tangible tourism results through showing that we offer great value.”

Cape Town Tourism launched a 2010 winter campaign on July 20 with the message that, “The World Cup may be over but Cape Town is just warming up”, and low season rates now apply for those considering a post-World Cup visit to bathe in Cape Town’s host city afterglow. The campaign will be marketed globally via a partnership with leading online travel information portal TripAdvisor (TripAdvisor features user-generated travel reviews and Cape Town recently ranked among the Top 25 Destinations in the World in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2010 Best Destinations Awards); and locally via radio live reads and Cape Town Tourism’s digital platforms.

World Cup visitors web savvy

Cape Town Tourism members report that online marketing was a major source of their bookings, with 57% of respondents saying they had enjoyed bookings directly through their own websites and 40% via referral websites including Cape Town Tourism’s

E-Marketing and the web were key focus areas for Cape Town Tourism’s World Cup marketing strategy. Cape Town Tourism’s website featured a dedicated World Cup 2010 mini-site – launched well in advance of the FIFA World Cup™, on June 11, 2009, to offer a comprehensive FIFA World Cup™ information portal and maximise Google rankings in the run-up to the event – together with a mobi site for fans on the move. These performed particularly well during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Cape Town Tourism’s website traffic skyrocketed from 60 000 visits for May 2010 to a monthly total of over 135 000 visits for the 4 weeks of the FIFA World Cup™, 125% up on the May figures.

Cape Town Tourism’s “I ♥ Cape Town” Facebook fan page proved invaluable in converting online soccer fans into Cape Town fans, growing from 60 000 fans in May 2010 to its current levels of over 88 000 fans. 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.

Tourism industry perceptions of the FIFA World Cup™

Despite disappointment in short-term FIFA World Cup™ bookings, 90% of tourism businesses surveyed by Cape Town Tourism believe that the FIFA World Cup™ has been good for Cape Town’s long-term tourism growth. This is due to the fact that the FIFA World Cup™ has positively influenced perceptions of the destination, and that word of mouth of visiting fans will have a positive effect on future business. According to tourism establishments surveyed, 86% of FIFA World Cup™ visitors are considering a return visit to Cape Town in the future.

World Cup countered seasonality

The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ has been critical in countering seasonality, bringing Cape Town a significantly better winter than it would have had, and proving that a winter mega-event in Cape Town is possible and enjoyable.  Around 70% of Cape Town Tourism’s survey respondents say guests found Cape Town’s winter weather to be better than expected, while 62% of respondents say they think that the FIFA World Cup™ has helped to counter seasonality in Cape Town.

Says ACSA Communications Manager Deidre Hendricks at Cape Town International Airport; ““The FIFA World Cup™ has demonstrated the importance and the impact that events have on traffic into Cape Town. From an airport perspective, both on the domestic and the international front, additional flights had to be added in order to deal with the extra passenger movements. If large-scale events such as the FIFA World Cup™ continue to come to our shores during our off-peak season, we will see an increase in air traffic movement in order to deal with the extra demand – something which would benefit us all.

And 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.” 

Alderman Felicity Purchase, mayoral committee member for economic development and tourism for the City of Cape Town, agrees that the hosting of major events during Cape Town’s winter season is critical to unlocking economic growth for the city. “The City of Cape Town has developed an events policy and is now working on a post-2010 World Cup events strategy with key stakeholders from the events and tourism industry,” she said. “Events can play an important role in addressing seasonality, which is one of the greatest stumbling blocks in the development of Cape Town as a year-round tourism destination.”

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold concurs: “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, converting soccer fans into fans of Cape Town. Our aim is to double the economic impact of tourism by 2020 and the successful hosting of the World Cup in Cape Town in winter will definitely make this target more attainable.”

Media coverage of the event

In terms of television audiences, over 700 million people tuned in to watch the FIFA World Cup™ final, 100 million more than the number of people who watched the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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 commentary on the FIFA World Cup™ 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. Around 17.5-million British viewers tuned into the BBC to watch their country go up against Germany – with commentary from the Cape Town studio.

Looking ahead – summer season 2010/11

While it is too early to predict figures, Cape Town Tourism is confident that a good summer season will follow the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. This optimism comes with the proviso that the destination’s tourism industry focuses on pro-active, price-conscious marketing for the remainder of the year. Many visitors evaded the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ due to recession-fuelled financial worries, while others stayed home out of fear for their safety. Once again, the positive media coverage and rich visual documentation of an incident-free event in a remarkable destination have been a priceless global advertisement for Cape Town.

Says Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold: “Many a mega-event host destination has endured a post-event depression, but so often that was based on the fact that the destination disappointed visitors with less than they expected. In our case, the opposite is true. The international media have found it hard to remain objective as they have been carried along on a rowdy but good-spirited wave of colour, vibrancy and warmth. Our efficiency, safety and all-round positive attitude have caught the attention of the world and many a jaded pessimist has been forced to revise [their] views. We believe that this FIFA World Cup™ has been not only the greatest marketing success story we have ever had, but it has also been an essential and long-overdue turning point for the world’s perception of Africa.”

The world reviews Cape Town

Cape Town Tourism’s PR and communications team assisted with manning the host city desk at the official FIFA Media Centre at Cape Town Stadium for the duration of the tournament. During the month, Cape Town Tourism hosted more than 450 World Cup journalists on tours and excursions, encouraging them to see more of Cape Town than just the inside of the stadium or their hotel room. The results were overwhelmingly positive and Cape Town consistently came up tops as a host city.

Some comments from journalists and foreign commentators, including many hosted by Cape Town Tourism:

“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and live in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas but I’ve never been to a city that makes such an immediate impression. The setting is breathtaking, and waking up each morning to Table Mountain’s flitting moods, a joy. Then you add in the friendliness of the people, the quality of the food and wine, and Cape Town’s sense of fun, and you have a truly special place.”
Duncan Castles, The Observer, United Kingdom

“As a freelance journalist from the Netherlands, writing about sports and tourism, I travel around the world the whole year. I have been everywhere from Mongolia to Vancouver, from Beijing to Rio de Janeiro. But my visit to Cape Town, during the World Cup soccer, where I stayed for more than five weeks, ruined my ambition to see the whole world in 10 years. Why? Because I fell in love with the Mother City! Now I don’t have to travel around the world anymore because Cape Town IS the world. The V&A Waterfront is like Europe, the food is perfect like in Asia, the weather is fantastic like South America, the people are as friendly as in Australia and the ambitions are as high as in the USA. I fell in love with this marvellous city and will return time and time again.”
Vincent de Vries, freelance journalist, the Netherlands

“I have just left Cape Town after my second short visit and I have to say it is a very cosmopolitan and fascinating city. The city is clean, green and full of friendly people. It has so many areas of geological and historical significance that my only regret is that I did not have the time to learn more about Robben Island, District Six, and more. I hope Cape Town continues to thrive and move forward as a modern, cultural melting pot and would love to bring my family here one day soon.”
Amar Singh,, United Kingdom

“What a turn-around it has been. The UK media had made up their minds that the World Cup was going to fail, and so the stage was set. But, from the opening ceremony and that amazing first goal by Siphiwe Tshabalala, it was clear that things were maybe not as they would seem ... it needed a closer look. This closer look was the BBC’s role; they have been based in Cape Town and must have broadcast from every location that has a beautiful backdrop and spent much of the broadcasts effusing over the beauty of the city, the welcome and warmth of the locals and yes, they did moan about the vuvu’s, but conceded that they helped make this cup an African World Cup and we had all better get to like them. The world loves Cape Town, it really shone and made South Africa look like a very real next holiday destination.”
Mary Tebje, Cape Town Tourism’s international representative, UK

“My trip to Cape Town was amazing. 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.”
Edward Lawrence, CBS TV Network, USA

“Cape Town is one of the most beautiful and most fascinating cities in the world, from a tourist’s point of view and from a journalist’s point of view. Cape Town combines sights, culture and the impulse to learn something about South Africa’s political history. The city, with its huge contrasts, is a permanent repertory of interesting stories. It cannot become boring.”
Ronny Blaschke, freelance journalist, Berlin

“Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places on earth. My impression of the beauty of the nature and the people of this city will stay with me forever. Thank you for the most fantastic time.”
Zheng Daojin, Xinhua News Agency, China

“Only one word to describe Cape Town – AMAZING. It is one of the most photogenic cities in the world and I was surprised and amazed during my stay here. From the Waterfront to Khayelitsha – I loved each part of Cape Town.”
Andres Kudacki, photographer and filmmaker, Argentina

“I have travelled the world and have seldom felt so at home in any city as in Cape Town. I loved how helpful and friendly the people were. I felt safe and embraced. I will return time and time again to this beautiful city.”
Dariusz Kurowski, freelance journalist, Poland

“I wish I could spend the entire time of the World Cup in Cape Town – the most beautiful and friendliest host city. Thank you for the time of my life, Cape Town.”
Dr Alamin Kheir, international football editor, Sudan

“Being in Cape Town during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ has been nothing but life-changing. There is a genuine warm, inviting and rich culture that Capetonians embody in so many ways. I have been blown away and will be back soon.”
Catherine O’Brien, media consultant, USA

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