Spreading the Benefits beyond South Africa: Southern and Eastern African Countries Are Already Busy Working out Plans to Capitalise on the Half Million Visitors Expected to Descend on South Africa during the 2010 World Cup. Tom Nevin Reports
Nevin, Tom, African Business
Against a rising tide of resentment that the 2010 soccer World Cup will be almost exclusively a South African affair with the rest of Africa on the outside looking in, other African countries are making plans not to be left out of the spoils of the football extravaganza--and South Africa seems to be doing what it can to spread the 2010 goodwill around.
In addition, Nepad has put together a committee of experts tasked with ensuring the 2010 largesse is distributed as widely around the continent as possible. Their plans are said to be quite well advanced, but they say they will not be disclosing what they have in mind until early next year. Nepad aside, individual countries are making plans of their own, determined to cash in on the half-million or so soccer fans expected to sweep into South Africa with money to burn.
Marketing plans and advertising campaigns are moving off the drawing board with many due for launch as early as next year. So far, southern Africa is taking the lead followed by such East African points-of-call on the popular Europe-South Africa flight path as Kenya and Tanzania, intent on snaring the football faithful on their way to Cup hosts South Africa, or on their way back.
Although World Cup matches will be played exclusively on South African soil, at least 13 countries in Southern Africa are determined to play a significant role in and benefit substantially from the event.
Thirty-two national teams will be competing in a total of 64 matches, with several friendly games expected before the final matches. Will some of these curtain-raiser friendlies be played in neighbouring countries? Perhaps, is the best the soccer cogniscenti will say for now and some countries in the region are getting ready, just in case. But it is those sightseeing carrots that southern and east Africa will most dangle, and for which they are most famous. Game parks and natural splendours such as the Victoria Falls are the royal cards in the region's tourism deck.
Southern African countries in particular will be devoting much of their marketing effort in highlighting their TFCAs (trans-frontier conservation areas)--a relatively new tourism concept that combines border-straddling parks into single massive reserves that allow tourists, and game, to move freely across borders and the millions of hectares devoted to conservation and wildlife management. The aim also is to expose local hospitality industries and the people who earn their livelihoods from them to visitors exploring the territory via tourism routes with specific attention to the TFCAs and the local people who live and work in them.
"It's difficult for rural communities to market their work," says Leonore Beukes, marketing manager for the transfrontier conservation areas 2010 at South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. "The tourism routes will provide a platform for them so they can sell their wares and sustain themselves."
Lesotho will be among the first in the marketplace with a tourism experience tailor-made for 2010 visitors. The initiative, launched in October, is the "unique Maloti-Drakensburg mountain route" showcasing the region's high country splendour.
Developed over five years with $15m in World Bank grant money, it links South Africa with its tiny mountain kingdom neighbour, taking visitors into the area's TFCAs.
"We will market the region internationally, chiefly through a website currently in development, to persuade people to come and experience the region," says Beukes.
The Maloti-Drakensburg tourism route includes part of Lesotho and the bordering South African provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Free State and is aimed at helping local communities to enter the tourism market.
Lesotho is famous for its massive mountain ranges and is often referred to as Africa's Switzerland. …