THE South African tourism industry joined Football International Federation Association in support of the county's readiness to host the 2010 soccer World Cup, reports BuaNews.
The statement followed recent media reports suggesting that South Africa was on the brink of losing the host rights to countries such as Australia.
“There have been suggestions that South Africa should relinquish its ambition to host the event and focus on socio-economic issues. Our response as the industry is that the world cup is a catalyst to enable our country to address the very socio-economic problems,” said Tourism Business Council of South Africa's [TBCSA] COO Mmat'at'i Marobe.
TBCSA represents all segments of the private sector within the tourism industry such as travel, accommodation and other tourism enterprises in country.
The organisation said the industry was ‘integrally’ involved in gearing up to receive a record number of tourists in 2010. The Council said the tourism landscape was growing ‘incrementally’.
More than seven million international tourists visited the country last year and this was ‘expected to top the 10 million mark by 2010,’ the Council said.
During the unveiling of the 2010 soccer world cup emblem in Berlin yesterday, FIFA President, Sepp Blatter emphasised how much the ‘world football family’ trusted South Africa to host the tournament.
“I am optimistic for Africa...there is some information putting into question the ability to organise the World Cup... Mamma Mia! Mamma Mia. “The whole world trusts you. The FIFA family, 207 football associations, 250 million active participants in the world of football and one billion people behind the FIFA family said ‘yes’ to South Africa. We trust you and we also do it for the future,” said Blatter.
Outlining tourism’s position, BuaNews quotes Marobe as saying the industry was compiling a database of all tourism products and attractions in the country to maximise economic share of tourism growth.
TBCSA, was also working with government and counterparts in Southern African Development Community [SADC] to improve issues around accessibility for tourists visiting the region, she said.
“We are ensuring that key hospitality establishments such as accommodation, restaurants and transport facilities are star graded and that accommodation and tourist infrastructure are in place before the event,” the Council said.
Marobe said her organisation was looking at service excellence programmes to provide skills and human capital development in preparation for the World Cup. “We are already in negotiations to ensure airlift and internal transport issues are addressed before and after 2010.”
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