South Africa expects 300 000 visitors for the Soccer World Cup next month, down from an initial forecast of 450,000, but the country remains confident of full stadiums, the tourism minister said on Tuesday.
“We will probably see around 300 000 international arrivals for the World Cup — just under or just more than that,” tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told lawmakers in a World Cup readiness briefing.
“It may be a little bit less than what we expected … but four years ago nobody expected the global recession,” he said, quickly adding: “But it is still a lot of people. Our stadiums are going to be full, it is going to an exceptionally good World Cup.”
Of the 230 000 foreign fans who have bought tickets, Van Schalkwyk said just 11 300 are African — 76% less than originally forecast for the first World Cup on African soil.
“Only 2% of those tickets are to Africans. Originally we expected around 48 000,” he said.
“There are two reasons. It is the distribution channels. People in Africa don’t buy tickets on the internet. It was a huge mistake that I think Fifa/Match made and also I believe the unaffordable pricing.”
Van Schalkwyk offered Fifa advice for hosting the tournament in developing countries where internet availability is low. The next
World Cup will be hosted by Brazil in 2014.
“Look at the way that you sell tickets. It does not work in developing countries and on continents such as Africa. People don’t buy tickets through the Internet, [not] large numbers of people,” Van Schalkwyk said.
South Africa has invested R33-billion in the first World Cup on the African continent, with Fifa having sold more than 2,5-million of some three million tickets just over three weeks from the June 11 kick-off.
The cheapest World Cup tickets of R140 were reserved for South Africans or legal residents in the country. — Sapa-AFP