/ 14 September 2009

LOC: World Cup legacy secure despite financial crisis

The long-term spin-offs of the 2010 World Cup will remain despite the global financial crisis and an economic recession locally, the local organising committee (LOC) said in Johannesburg on Monday.

”I think that we are better off because during this crisis one of the things that people all over the world said was to invest in infrastructure roll-out, and the crisis found this country already in the phase of having invested and now completing infrastructure,” LOC chief executive Danny Jordaan said at the Orlando Stadium during a discussion on the legacy the tournament would leave.

”All of the infrastructure programmes gave jobs to 415 000 people during this period where most people are shedding jobs, so I think the World Cup has made a contribution.

”Of course the global economic crisis has an impact on everybody and everything and every project, that is a reality we now have to contend with.

”The fortunate thing for South Africa is that the crisis comes at the end of our phase of construction; this stadium [Orlando], for example, is complete, the one in Port Elizabeth is complete and most of the others sit at 90% completion.”

Across the globe, tourism was declining, with travellers readjusting their holiday plans to suit their tighter budgets.

Jordaan said top, world-class teams had recently qualified for the World Cup, including England, Brazil and The Netherlands, which meant many soccer fans would visit the country.

”Sports tourism is one of the ways in which to augment the tourism inflows into the country.

”The level of excitement in those countries [England, Brazil and The Netherlands] will bring fans … If it were not for the World Cup, they would not come here,” he said.

Organisers expected about 30 000 English soccer fans to visit the country.

”The big teams will bring the numbers,” he said.

Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana said the government would take the soccer spectacular to rural villages by setting up public viewing areas (PVAs).

After the World Cup, the government was mulling converting these areas into cinemas for local communities or tourism hubs to provide residents space to showcase their culture, through art, craft, theatre and dance.

”The PVAs can be used as tourist attractions after the World Cup … in this way those in rural areas will benefit after the event,” she said.

The government had spent R9,8-billion in stadium and precinct development — its total contribution being R28-billion.

Jordaan said the stadiums built for the tournament should be seen as businesses to be run and maintained as such after the Cup. He said the country should avoid limiting the stadiums for one sports code after the tournament. To ensure they were commercially viable, they should be used for rugby and other sports.

A study by Grant Thornton estimates the Cup will contribute R55,7-billion to the South African economy, create 415 400 jobs, contribute R19,3-billion in tax income. An estimated 483 257 tourists would spend about R8,5-billion during their stay in the country. — Sapa