“Economically, the tournament has been a success,” said South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma this week at the Investec global investment conference in Cape Town. “We can safely say that we have good returns on our investment, which includes R33-billion spent on transport infrastructure and on telecommunications and stadiums.”
President Zuma said the benefits of the tournament to South Africa included 66,000 new jobs in construction and R1.3-billion spent on safety and security, including the recruitment of 40,000 police officers. He said the World Cup had helped shatter stereotypes and spotlight his country as a gateway to the rest of Africa.
“Africa is open for business. Explore the opportunities, find new partners and see returns on your investment. It is a positive period for the continent,” he said.
South Africa did fail to meet its overly optimistic forecast of drawing 450,000 fans to the games and earning about $1.1 billion tourism dollars. Nonetheless, the country’s $100 million marketing campaign did post impressive results. Officials said the World Cup caused a 25 percent increase in airport arrivals – or 200,000 more foreign visitors than are normal in what’s typically the least active tourist season. From January to March, South Africa received more than 1.9 million tourists, a 21 percent boost from last year at this time. Even more importantly, the peaceful games silenced skeptics who had questioned the feasibility of the chosen host country because of the high crime rate and poor public transportation.
Thanks to the impeccable planning and execution of the World Cup, Archbishop Desmond Tutu claimed that a sense of national unity has been reinforced in South Africa, for the first time since the fall of Apartheid in 1994. It is this sense of community, he said, that will not only continue to help South Africa’s economy thrive, but also boost the morale of the entire African continent for years to come.
Even as the games draw to a close, South Africa’s economy is continuing to benefit. With only one final match left, FIFA estimates that there are about 700 tickets available and they are going for at least $600 a piece.
President Zuma is already thinking beyond Sunday’s final game. He has hinted again that one or more South African cities might now bid for the right to host the Olympic Games in 2020 or 2024.
“I don’t think anyone today would say ‘No’ if South Africa said ‘Let us have the Olympics’ because they know we have the facilities.
“Our appetite has been whetted. We might end up asking,” he said.
Cape Town pitched for the 2004 games but came third, behind Athens and Rome, in a 1997 vote.