/ 8 December 2009

SA has enough beds for 2010, says Van Schalkwyk

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Tuesday — in no uncertain terms — that South Africa has enough accommodation to deal with visitors to the soccer World Cup next year.

”We have enough accommodation,” he told a media conference in Parliament. ”We are very confident that we can now deal with whatever will be required from us.”

He said that an audit carried out by his department shows that there are more than 202 000 rooms available across the country. ”I am very confident,” he said, ”that this will be enough to provide for the approximately 450 000 visitors we are expecting for the World Cup.”

Of the 202 000 rooms available, more than 107 000 are graded — that is, the grading council guarantees that each will attain a certain verified standard.

Match, the company appointed by Fifa to deliver accommodation and ticketing solutions for the World Cup says — according to executive chairperson Jaime Byrom – that it has 44 000 rooms contracted for the delegations, commercial affiliates, media and participating tour operators. All of their rooms are graded. They also have another 4 500 rooms in neighbouring countries.

Van Schalkwyk also announced that the database created by the accommodation audit will be used as the basis for a real-time booking portal, which will be managed by his department, the tourism business council and the Federated Hospitality Association.

The portal will be up and running early in 2010, said Sindiswa Nhlumayo, a deputy director general in the ministry. She also urged establishments listed on the database to verify and update their entries.

The department is also operating a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week telephone contact centre, where information in seven European languages on tourism and travel in South Africa will be available. — I-Net Bridge