DURBAN: While the rest of the continent, especially countries like Botswana, expects to benefit from the 2010 FIFA World Cup coming to the region next year by providing accommodation to guests, the lasting impression is when investment is left behind.
Dr Iraj Abedian, the Managing Director of Pan African Advisory Services, told a global media here that the legacy will not be about countries in the region providing hospitality and transportation.
“The legacy is not about the infrastructure; it is about introducing the region to international investment,” Dr Abedian told a Global Media Face Off, moderated by CNN anchor Richard Quest.
Tourism operators in the frontline countries like Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique, including Mauritius, have lined up to fill the gap that South African hospitality might fail to provide to the visiting FIFA delegates and sports fans.
“It will also depend on the channels of distribution and impact. Currently, the focus is about hospitality and transportation,” he added, saying that the only place that has benefited from hosting such huge events has been Barcelona.
Although Botswana has previously raised concerns about MATCH, the FIFA accommodation contractor not considering Botswana, organisers of the tournament say the country is, amongst others, in the region that will benefit from the spill over.
Dr Danny Jordan explained that since this is an African World Cup, “we are looking beyond the borders through Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana” to really say this is an African event.
In 2007, it was estimated that FIFA will need 55, 000 rooms for the World Cup, but South Africa could only provide 35, 000 leaving a shortfall of 20, 000 that was to be filled by countries in the region.
Botswana tourism officials have raised concerns that MATCH had only roped in Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe leaving out Botswana.
However, this week, MATCH officials said the region has become part of the events in South Africa. Jamie Byron, the Chief Executive Officer for MATCH said the neighbouring countries should provide accommodation. He said that “the region is an integral part of the accommodation” adding that they have provided air transportation to link the region to South Africa.
The point is buttressed by the recent launch of South African Airways (SAA) direct route between Gaborone and Johannesburg. The flight, which flies twice a day, has taken competition to Air Botswana (national carrier) and South African Express (SAX).
Byron said that he believes that there are enough beds and they have had no complaints.