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The FIFA World Cup 2010 was held in South Africa between 11 June and 11 July 2010. Despite pre-tournament concerns about security and readiness, the competition was considered a success.
Visitor numbers reached over 300,000 specifically visiting for the tournament, spending over US$1.5 billion during the month-long event. Over 60% of these were visiting South Africa for the first time, with 80% attending a World Cup for first time also. The US was home to the highest number of visitors.
In March 2011, FIFA confirmed that their organisation had made US$3.7 billion from the 2010 World Cup. The bulk of this income came from broadcasting rights, sponsorship and marketing contracts.
As an established major tourism destination in Africa, South Africa experienced some displacement in 2010, in terms of traditional visitors avoiding the country, due to the World Cup being held there.
However, the South African Tourist Board feels that the South Africa brand has benefited from the tournament, and this is sufficient to compensate for the displaced visitors in 2010.
The success of the World Cup was a huge boost to the image of South Africa. Concerns about security and violence proved unfounded, and it is likely that this will encourage many visits from people who were previously discouraged because of the perceived risks.
Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, was invited to attend the annual BRIC summit, held in China in April 2011. Whilst the GDP of the country remains lower than that of other prospective entrants, the invitation was seen as an endorsement of the nation’s progress and as a means to establish a gateway to Africa and its 1 billion potential consumers.
South Africa is primed for growth in tourist numbers and arrivals are expected to reach 10 million in 2015. Recovery from the global economic crisis will be slow, as European and US markets take longer to recuperate. However, it is expected that much growth in the forecast period will be driven by African markets, which will become increasingly air rather than predominantly land markets as more flight options are made available.
A potential threat to growth over the forecast period is if Europe and the US do not recover from the economic crisis very quickly, and it takes longer than five years for the situation to improve and for people to travel and spend money in South Africa again.