Monday, January 25, 2021

FIFA accommodation agents may have to explain after World Cup

DURBAN: The FIFA accommodation and ticketing agents, MATCH, may face the wrath of the world soccer governing body over complications to procure beds for the upcoming tournament in South Africa.
Jerome Valcke, the FIFA Secretary General, said issues of cancelations have marred the build up to South Africa hosting tourists in next month.

“I agree all has not worked well,” Valcke said at the Indaba 2010 here.
“We will meet in Zurich after the World Cup and decide the wayfoward.”
The partnership between the two parties goes up to 2014, but by the look of things, it might be reviewed.

MATCH, which some sections of the South African industry say rips off operators, procures accommodation and does ticketing for FIFA.

Already, Botswana tour operators have declined to do business with the company, citing uncertainties due to cancellations or lack of guarantees and pricing.

The company has in the past visited the country to sensitise operators about its activities, but Botswana was not happy as per the advice from government.

Apparently, one package for corporates costs about $US 1, 7 million, that include a couple of tickets on it, but many local operators felt it was too expensive.

From start, Botswana has always been suspicious of what MATCH offers.

At a Tourism Pitso in 2007, Kitso Mokaila, the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and the Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Tourism Organisation, advised those providing accommodation to be careful when dealing with World Cup contracts, adding that the problem with pre-booking was that there could be cancellations.

So far in Botswana, Sun International (or Gaborone Sun) is the only service provider that has signed an agreement with FIFA because of its network of hotels in SADC and South Africa.
Now Botswana wants to use its international tourism reputation for spill offs from the soccer event with a number of local tour operators and travel agents receiving enquiries from possible tourists.
So far, HATAB has compiled a list of hotels, lodges and motels to its inventory with Gaborone and its environs having 2 500 beds and Phikwe having 500 bed capacities.
The country is expected to use its comparative advantage of peace, stability and low levels of crime to lure tourists who might want to see its wilderness.

Four Japanese tour operators have visited to view accommodation facilities in Gaborone.
The tour operators that have had enquiries from international operators include AT & T Monnakgotla, TRL Travel and Harvey World. Most of the nationalities making the enquiries were Asians, Japanese and Koreans.

About 450, 000 travelers will come to the region for the one month period.
Thandiwe January-Maclean, the new Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism, agreed that the tour operators were inconvenienced by MATCH.

“They (tourism industry) are unhappy stakeholders,” explained January-Maclean.
“(But) they proceeded to sell in the manner they seemed fit.” It is said that several of accommodation providers are left with thousands of unfilled rooms because of agreements without guarantees.

When the preparations started, FIFA was in need of an estimated 55,000 rooms for the 2010 World Cup, but South Africa pledged only 35,000, leaving a shortfall of 20,000.
But of late, private accommodation providers have come out and charge market prices.

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