Lessons from South Africa
Posted by John Beech on January 5, 2011
If you are still ‘feeling the hurt’ of England’s failed bid for the 2018 World Cup (and perhaps thinking London 2012 will be a roaring success), you may well be interested in the results of a survey made by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) and South African Tourism (SAT) on the impact of the 2010 World Cup. Apparently it shows that “without a doubt that the event will have a lasting legacy in terms of the South African tourism industry” (1).
Now this doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. It has long been established by Adam Blake, Professor of Economics & Econometrics at Bournemouth University’s School of Tourism, and others, that the Olympics, for example, can have a positive economic effect. The impact varies though – generally it is fairly local, and, in terms of an ongoing tourism legacy, the less the destination is already an established tourism destination, the bigger the subsequent impact.
Undoubtedly there are some great headline statistics for South Africa. See futebolfinance for a quick summary. But as futebolfinance points out, “With a cost that was estimated at about 3,225 million Euros (see How much is a FIFA World Cup ), the benefits are clearly below costs, leaving just as big beneficiaries of the events, FIFA itself and the sponsoring companies that achieve a huge media exposure.” South Africa’s Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk insists that “I have no doubt that South Africa is reaping the rewards of hosting the Cup.” Well, he wouldn’t, would he?
All of this just reinforces my personal view that FIFA (and the IOC) have done an amazing PR job in managing to get countries queuing up to lose money while others reap the benefit. In the case of FIFA, where Seb Blatter has made much of his desire to take the World Cup beyond its traditional host areas, it is abundantly clear that the number of possible new venues is going to be extremely limited. Beyond Qatar, the ability to finance the hosting of a FIFA World Cup may be restricted to countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Is that really Blatter’s intention? There is an obvious way of facilitating a wider range of hosts – cash-rich FIFA could subsidise the hosting. Not that I’m holding my breath mind you…