The Bonanza that bombed

SA2010It is surprising and disturbing that, based on results to date, less than 25% of the accommodation establishments polled have seen any increased benefit from hosting the 2010 World Cup.  Or that 75% say bookings for the World Cup period are the same or far lower (45%) than for the same period last year.

These figures are reflected in the initial results of CapeInfo’s accommodation occupancy survey for the World Cup period.

Many of the comments that accompany the survey results show disbelief and despair, and anger at MATCH, FIFA’s ticketing and accommodation agency.  They dropped the bulk of rooms allocated to them.

Why is CapeInfo not surprised?  Well firstly, it seems that people have very short memories.  A similar scenario played out during the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Since the middle of last year, CapeInfo has been cautioning readers not to get caught up in the hype — figures of 480,000 foreign visitors, etc.  Simply because 480,000 foreign visitors is not that many.

In a previous post in Spaniard in the Works, we pointed out that South Africa has already hosted 964,000 foreign tourists in one month, without any fanfare.

Now “foreign tourists” includes tourists from Africa.  The highest number of overseas arrivals is 225,000 and we’re not aware of a dramatic increase in the number of aircraft seats into SA to cater for a (revised) 332,000 anticipated overseas tourists.  So maybe that’s wishful thinking too.

What went wrong?  Well one has to start at the top — the Minister of Tourism and his advisors failed to provide the leadership and guidance required of them.  They chose rather to engage “representative organisations” which are not really representative at all.  They also displayed a dazzling lack of insight.

One wonders what discussions, if any, went on at cabinet level about South African Airways price increases of 400%.  Did Marthinus speak to Barbara and did Barbara find a chairperson at SAA to talk to?  Did they really care or did they just leave it to the Competition Tribunal?

FIFA and MATCH should be feeling a little bruised — if they’ve woken up to the fact that they’re not as almighty as they thought they were.  Is Sepp Blatter still “His Excellency”?

And lastly, the product owners.  Remember the old adage, “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”  The bonanza bombed because everybody didn’t work as a team, with effective leadership and a combined goal.

Those statistics might still change as more establishments account for their bookings.  And if the major hotel groups add theirs, the true beneficiaries will become evident.

South African accommodation establishments can add their input until June 11 — click here.

It’s not all doom and gloom.  It all depends on whether South Africans embrace Lianne Burton’s call to make 2010 a love affair and not a one-night stand.  What images and stories will the international media be sending home?  Will the media love us enough to make South Africa the most desirable destination in the world?  That’s where the bonanza has to be reclaimed!

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