There's no doubt that hosting one of the world's most prestigious sporting events will bring myriad benefits to South Africa, not only by bringing in revenue from tourism, but also by giving this vibrant country a chance to pull away from its dark past and usher in a new era with the new decade.
But what of the other African countries? How likely is it that, having touched down in South Africa, a foreign football fan will uncover a subconscious wanderlust and wish to explore the continent further?
Nigel Vere Nicoll, head of the Africa Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA), has his doubts, stating that he does not believe the ripple effect will be "as big as one hopes."
"There's an initiative in Zambia, Zimbabwe, but I'm not sure that it's actually going to work... We're not actually even sure of the profile of the people attending (the World Cup) and whether they have the extra finance to go on safari or wherever."
Similar concerns have been voiced by those in the Kenyan tourism industry, who had hoped that one of the bigger teams might choose Kenya as a base in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup. James Onyango, of standardmedia.co.ke, laments the government's lack of organization in marketing Kenya as a transit destination. As he rightly points out, a photo of a world football star walking on a Kenyan beach, or even one of their glamorous wives examining a necklace at a Masai Market, would have done wonders for Kenyan tourism.
Let's hope that the Kenyan government tries to harness the "Obama Effect," so palpable since Barack Obama (of Kenyan descent) was elected to the US Presidency in 2008, beyond the sale of tea-towels, t-shirts, or kanga's bearing the Kenyan president's face!
In Tanzania the situation is, unfortunately, not dissimilar. Despite the huge potential of having attracted Brazil to play a pre-World Cup friendly match against the Tanzanian Taifa All-Stars on June 7th, the event itself fell somewhat short of the spectacular it could have been.
The stadium at Dar Es Salaam, where the match took place, has a 60,000-person capacity but was about three-quarters full. Although the cost of tickets (30,000 TZS or approximately $20 USD) undoubtedly played a roll, the main issue seems to have been advertisement, or rather a lack of it. When asked about the Tanzania-Brazil match the day before it was played, reception staff in a central Dar Es Salaam hotel responded with blank faces and a shrug of the shoulders. An ex-pat friend living in Dar Es Salaam thought the match was "just a rumour."
The atmosphere at the event itself was undeniably electric—a sea of royal blue shirts and flags, pockets here and there of canary yellow and lime green, and the constant buzz of a thousand vuvuzelas all came together to create something special that evening (despite the fact that Tanzania lost 5-1 to Brazil). You can't deny that East Africa has the people, the facilities, and the incredible natural beauty to harness a new breed of tourist. Unfortunately, that famous African passion and gregariousness doesn't appear to have extended to the tourist board yet.
Read more guides, tips, and insider info from East African travel experts Ziara Safaris. Ziara specializes in fully customizable and private Kenya safaris around the greatest national parks and game reserves in the country. In conjunction with the South Africa 2010 World Cup, they are offering 10 percent off all of their Kenya safari packages. To take advantage of this soccer special, book your safari before the World Cup final on July 11.
Photo Credit: South African World Cup Fans (Steve Evans)
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