Category Archives: 2010 FIFA World Cup

When crime stopped paying…

The biggest benefits of the 2010 World Cup are those that are still to be discovered.  Like… crime in South Africa can be beaten!

And if FIFA’s presence has been a heavy cost in other ways, maybe their Big Brother demands on government (which just played silly buggers with criminals up to now) will show the way for tackling crime in the future.  Maybe it did take outside interference and the pressure of hosting the World Cup for something to be done.

Government got serious — 41 000 police were deployed around stadiums, fan parks, hotels and tourist sites.  They acquired new helicopters and other equipment,  and set up 56 dedicated World Cup courts across the country.

These are staffed by dedicated prosecutors, detectives, magistrates and interpreters, sitting late into the night to try cases linked to the World Cup.

Justice has never been so quick.  After foreign journalists were robbed at gunpoint in Magaliesberg last Wednesday, police arrested two men the next day and they were tried, convicted and begun serving 15-year sentences on the Friday.

In Nelspruit, police arrested three men a few hours of Chinese journalists were robbed at their lodge.

In Cape Town, a woman who snatched the bag of a Japanese tourist was arrested, tried and convicted a day later.

Most World Cup visitors report that they’ve never felt safer, and that’s the best message they can take home to family and friends.  CapeInfo’s surveys showed that 86% of all visiting fans listed crime and personal safety as their biggest fear before they left home.

A survey by the Institute for Security Studies of 30 convicted house robbers showed most had been involved in over 100 robberies before being arrested. While statistics and logic is never linear, surely this shows that it’s not impossible to make a very big dent into the 18,000 house robberies and 15,000 car hijackings that SA experiences each year?

So when FIFA fly out  after the most profitable World Cup they’ve ever organised, will government go back to its old ways or will these improvements be rolled out to the entire criminal justice system?

What should we do with the countdown clock?

CapeInfo's World Cup countdown clock

CapeInfo's World Cup countdown clock

It’s going to be rather sad seeing the disappearance of the World Cup countdown clock. It has been such a feature on CapeInfo’s home page for over 1,000 days.

Unlike many others which are set to the day, it has been counting down to the actual start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup at 4pm South African time on June 11, 2010.

Do we remove it or reset it so it counts down to the final match? Let us know what you think.

This is the second time the CapeInfo countdown clock has been used. It was developed for CapeInfo in 1997 by Internet Solutions, for the countdown to the new millennium in 2000. So maybe we should be calling it our Millennium Clock!

Bringing it out of hibernation for the World Cup was appropriate. Because this time, the eyes of the world is on South Africa.

As the games are about to start, I keep thinking back to the landmark 1974 general elections in SA. One story that came out of that was about Rupert Lorimer, I think. He was standing for the Progressive Party in Orange Grove… I think. What I do remember was the news report that he had a huge banner covering the whole one wall of his campaign offices saying: “There is no second place.

Well, whatever happens over the next month and whoever makes it to the finals, one hopes and trusts that South Africa will be the winner in the eyes of the world.

Yes, FW de Klerk is correct when he said the other day that “We South Africans specialise in miracles.” And it was the late Dr Anton Rupert who said, “He who does not believe in miracles is not a realist.”

So… go Bafana Bafana… go for it!

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!

Tracking surveys prove value; now for a global Fan Survey!

CapeInfo’s accommodation tracking surveys have proved their value, not only in measuring what’s happening across an industry, but also as a forum to share information and influence change. The new global Fans Survey will build on this, making contact and getting to know fans before they arrive.

Few people will take part in surveys unless they see benefit or there is entertanment value. CapeInfo’s surveys aim to provide participants with immediate benefit.

Our new global Fans Survey will get to know the fans, their needs, concerns and desires before they set foot in South Africa. We’ll try to answer many of their concerns and also help them make the most of their trips. Trial surveys will start testing in the next month in key foreign markets.

Profile of 2010 World Cup Fans

Forecasting is either tempting fate and an act of utter foolishness, but then some crystal ball gazing (with the benefit of wisdom and experience) may shed some light on our forthcoming visitors.

Well, the first prediction is a relatively easy one. Two-thirds of all fans, or spectators at matches, will be South Africans. That’s who most tickets are being sold to. So forget about hordes of dollar-, sterling- and euro-flush foreigners banging your doors down. If you’re in the travel and hospitality industries, you better be catering for South Africans first!

Then, when you start looking at where the foreign fans are coming from, read Gillian Saunders’ predictions in an earlier post. Of the 483,000 foreign fans, 151,000 are expected from Africa and 332,000 from overseas.

But will those 332,000 fans actually get here? The maximum airlift of visitors into South Africa ever was in November 2007 when 225,000 overseas visitors arrived by air. There has been a recession since then, there are insufficient flights (until somebody proves me wrong) and airlines are behaving like greedy vultures.

And apparently it’s cheaper to book a holiday in Mauritius and fly there from Europe, with a flight across to South Africa for the game you want to watch, than it is to fly from Europe to South Africa during the World Cup period. Go figure! I predict Mauritius will have higher occupancy rates than South Africa.

And to dispel the dream that every nook and cranny with a bed will be occupied during the World Cup month, let’s borrow another of Gillian Saunder’s stats: total expected foreign visitors for World Cup is 483,000; but in December 2008 South Africa hosted 983,000 foreign tourists.

Doesn’t this all sound very familiar? Does anyone recall what happened around the 1995 Rugby World Cup? Well Bafana Bafana will be the surprise upset of eternity if they match the Springboks 1995 performance, and it seems that occupancy levels will only be slightly higher than that disappointing year.

Okay, so the Inn isn’t full and fans aren’t beating the doors down. (441,695 is a lot of room-nights to release — as MATCH have done — because the demand was poor.)

African countries aside, where will most fans come from? The top countries are the USA (leading by far), UK, Australia, Mexico, Germany and Brazil. I don’t have a clear profile of fans from Africa but I do know affluent tourists from Africa are great shoppers. Johannesburg has replaced Paris and Geneva as the shopping mecca of choice.

I think the American visitors will be great! I know of many who have been planning this trip for over a year. They were prepared to put deposits down way back then if they knew they would get a better deal. Most Americans only get two weeks holiday a year and they will plan that holiday the full year ahead. They usually research their trip thoroughly – cultures, destinations, architecture… you name it… and they are keen explorers when they have access to information. Yes they can be loud and do expect things the American way — except when they decide to step outside of their cultural comfort zone — but they are invariably very polite.

Now I don’t want to comment on the Brits, because they can either be the very best or the very worst of guests. And this was once their colony! The Germans are quite similar, just much more formal, Ja! Their common bond is a love for booze…

The surprisingly large number of Australians are probably mainly South African expats. The World Cup is a great opportunity to visit home and all the remaining relatives. The Mexicans and Brazilians will be a novelty and, hopefully, they’ll be sufficiently impressed to return. But we’ve already published a letter from a Brazilian fan to President Zuma complaining of rip-offs… see the older posts.

FIFA, in a rare dose of common sense, have already said that the usually large hospitality component — companies treating favoured clients to a World Cup junket — will be far less than previous years due to the recession and distances. Now that is a big loss.

Should we be worrying about soccer hooligans? Well if we should, the media should be picking up stories about now of overloaded, beat-up Volksie busses crossing the channel en route to Africa. There’s a lot of rough terrain above us so we’re probably safe. And since few soccer hooligans have a house to mortgage, they’re not going to be able to afford the cost of an air ticket.

And those who do are having second thoughts given the Rambo’s who now run the South African police. “Shoot to kill” is much more dicey than any water cannon. Oh for the days when we proudly proclaimed, “The purple shall govern!” (Before your time? The police used to put purple dye in their water cannons to identify miscreants.)

So… with two South African fans for each foreign fan and eTV hunting out the criminals before the police do, everything seems under control. The accommodation shortage is officially no longer an accommodation shortage and, with MATCH relinquishing their 30%+ commissions, prices are coming down. Now if only the SA government — as South Africa Airways’ only shareholder — would do something about airline prices, all those South Africans might be able to travel to the matches.

Will fans visit beyond host cities?

This is probably one of the most frequent questions CapeInfo has received over the past few months. So will they?

Well if I was a fan visiting South Africa for the first time, after being fleeced by an airline for my ticket, I would certainly try to see as much of the country as possible. And if I had visited South Africa before, I would certainly be more adventurous about my location. But the first thing I would do is avoid establishments that tie me into a long stay.

If I wanted to spend most time in the Western Cape, I would seriously consider basing myself in Hermanus (two hours from the city centre) or Stellenbosch (40 minutes).

If I wanted to watch matches in Polokwane, I would most definitely base myself in Haenertsburg/Magoebaskloof (about 40 minutes away) for its buzz and beauty.

How many fans will venture further afield? Well if our guess about the Profile of Fans is correct, we think many will want to but how much they see depends on the effectiveness of regional marketing initiatives. And that’s where South Africa is falling down. The problem is exacerbated because so many foreign tour operators have become so disenchanted by World Cup rip-offs that they’re not really trying and many have stopped selling. Are side trips into the Bushveld or the Karoo being sold as part of the deal? I’d really encourage travellers to visit Prince Albert to experience the Karoo, for example, or visit the Waterberg for a bushveld experience.

One of the few regional initiatives we’re aware of is Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s Beyond the 90 Minutes campaign — which aimed to get fans out into the region — and that’s been an unmitigated disaster… so far. A good idea, badly implemented, and as we said when the V&A Waterfront started and people came through the door daily with their “good ideas”, “Good ideas are meaningless if they don’t achieve the bottom line.”

In the month after the Final Draw, Beyond the 90 Minutes’ Alexa traffic rank* dropped over one million places. In the past month its quarterly traffic rank has dropped by a staggering 1,108,445 places. Month-on-month, it’s traffic rank is down by a mind-boggling 12,704,123 places, which indicates it has gone into freefall and has almost no traffic.

CTRU’s CEO, Calvyn Gilfellan, says they took CapeInfo’s criticism to heart (CapeInfo News Nov09) and the standalone site is currently being incorporated into their main site. Well that’s a start, but their own site is no great shakes. He also says they will be linking to other websites. Well, they will be judged by their success after World Cup.

But it’s unfair to single out CTRU because almost every regional and local tourism authority throughout South Africa — with the exception of Cape Town Tourism — is falling short. Just one example — we regularly get emails from towns in the Western Cape’s Route 62 asking what information we need. We respond — eagerly — because we really want it and will publish it, and that’s where it ends. Nothing happens.

So if you are a tourism business and you’re worried about marketing your area, please go and kick some butt.

* Sure, Alexa is not accurate beyond the top 100,000 websites but it is one of the few publicly-accessible indicators of a website’s success. And surely CTRU’s websites should be in the top 100,000?

Fedhasa — when credibility fails

It is a sad day when one has to question transparency and integrity at Fedhasa — South Africa’s oldest representative hospitality organisation.

The whole issue of Rooms4U has been covered in previous blog posts (click here to read them all) but what was missing was any response from Fedhasa — which is at the centre of the whole controversy.

I wrote to Eddy Khosa, Fedhasa’s chair, on December 16 and followed up with a phone call.  He said he would respond promptly and confirmed this by email.  I wrote again on December 22 and he responded the same day: “Will revert back to you not later than tomorrow before close of business.”  After another reminder on January 7, he responded: “I am investigating the matter at the moment. I will revert back to you.”  On January 16, I wrote again (copied to Stuart Lumke, Fedhasa’s deputy chair and Phillip Couvaras, Western Cape chair) saying my email to Khosa would be published if no response was received.  No answer.

My email to Eddy Khosa (dated 16-12-2009) said the following:

Before publishing the stories about Rooms4U, I raised a query with Fedhasa but received no response.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited also drew the attention of Fedhasa Cape’s chair to our content.  Since publishing the articles I have been inundated with emails asking, “What response from Fedhasa?”

I should appreciate your response to the following:

  • It does appear that Fedhasa is, at worst, being used with the approval of its board as a front by its CEO to pursue personal business interests and those of his company, Kiara Holdings, or at best, to further personal interests using his position at Fedhasa.
  • It appears that Fedhasa has ignored ethical considerations and the obvious questions that would be asked as a result of these actions.  A reader’s comment about Rooms4U on CapeInfo’s blog states: “Their approach was amateurish and unprofessional and immediately invited questions.”
  • It appears that Kiara Holdings has tried to mislead the public and may still be doing so by making false statements on their website.  By doing so it is drawing Fedhasa into disrepute. The Travelwires website goes so far as to suggest that either TBCSA or Kiara Holdings is lying.

At the same time, it appears that nothing is that straightforward or quite what it seems.  It does seem that so-called representative tourism organisations have failed the industry and South Africa as a whole.

Much has been made of Rooms4U’s claim as South Africa’s official accommodation portal, endorsed by major tourism organisations and government.   There was some backtracking and “clarification”, resulting in endorsements removed and ending up with only Fedhasa’s endorsement.  Now is that surprising? Kiara Holding’s MD, Brett Dungan, is also Fedhasa’s CEO.

I suppose that also explains why, while TBCSA and SATSA do not endorse private ventures, Fedhasa does…

If CapeInfo’s interaction with Eddy Khosa isn’t an example of ducking and diving, I don’t know what is.  And that’s very sad because Fedhasa’s credibility suffers.

(This post was emailed to Fedhasa’s chair and CEO prior to publication.  No response was received.)

Note: Eddy Khoza is Fedhasa’s national chairperson. CapeInfo enjoys an excellent, close relationship with Fedhasa Cape.

2010 World Cup bonanza overstated

Some interesting statistics from Gillian Saunders at Grant Thornton South Africa, which monitors on an ongoing basis the various impacts the World Cup will have on South Africa and its economy:

It’s been estimated that 483,000 tourists (151,000 from Africa) are expected to come to South Africa for the World Cup, resulting in foreign spending of R8.5 billion.

In our top tourism month (December 2008) South Africa already hosted almost 964,000 foreign tourists, so there’s no doubt our nation and current tourism infrastructure can cope with the influx of additional visitors during the World Cup.

So, hiking room rates by a few hundred percent hardly seems worth it and there are many overseas who predict a fire sale around April 2010, when estabishments realise they are not getting the rates they hoped for.

Reaching the figure of 332,000 overseas tourists is going to be a challenge for airlines. The highest number of overseas arrivals in the past was 225,000 (November 2007).

The only thing that is not overstated is the global marketing opportunity that World Cup presents, and I just hope we get this right.

World Cup Fair Deals

CapeInfo has introduced a new criterion – World Cup Fair Deals – to its search facility which identifies accommodation establishments that guarantee their 2010 World Cup rates are no higher than their usual peak season rates.  Click here for more.

The one thing that will sour the whole World Cup and do lasting damage to South Africa’s tourism in the future is profiteering during the World Cup month.  We hope that by promoting businesses that are offering Fair Deals, we will help counter the international perception that is already damaging Brand South Africa. Select the Fair Deals option in the search box for the best 2010 World Cup accommodation deals!

An email to President Jacob Zuma

If anything demonstrates that South Africa’s tourism organisations do not have the first clue about the challenges for 2010 World Cup, the following email from Brazil says it all. SA Tourism’s policy is not to comment on 2010 accommodation and Johannesburg Tourism Co won’t get involved in any debate (but then they are close to bankrupt). The Department of Tourism mouths platitudes it does not live up to. And, it seems, the Tourism Business Council and Fedhasa are devoting more attention to feathering their own nests than addressing South Africa’s long term tourism interests. At the rate we’re going, the nett impact of 2010 World Cup will be negative, and South Africa will suffer the consequences for many years to come.

Your Excellency President Zuma,

My name is Berto Nogueira and I am a member of a group of Brazilian soccer fans in the social network “Orkut”. Our community’s name is “ Copa do Mundo 2010, Eu Vou” which translates roughly to ‘World Cup 2010, I am going or I go”. At the time of this writing we were 644 (six hundred and forty four) active members.

Several members of our community have indicated that prices being quoted for accommodation and for domestic air travel in South Africa are way too high. Several members were quoted prices for accommodation double, triple, and in some cases close to five times the going rates.

I take this opportunity to inform Your Excellency that most of us have attended previous world cups and that nowhere have we experienced price increases like the ones being asked in South Africa for accommodations and for domestic air travel.

As a soccer fan and a member of this community of soccer fans, I respectfully ask your excellency and all other South African authorities involved in the World Cup 2010 to reconsider and to regulate this practice of price gouging. It is in everyone’s best interest to have a World Cup where fans would feel they were treated well and paid fair prices for goods and service.

Some of us may return to visit South Africa with our families if we have a positive experience during the World Cup. The World Cup gives a country the opportunity to showcase its beauty and to showcase how visitors are treated within the country.

The current prices being quoted for accommodation and for domestic flights in South Africa do not paint a positive picture of 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

South Africa is a great nation and we hope the 2010 World Cup is going to be a huge success. However, Fifa and the South African government need to make sure that soccer fans from every country of the world are charged fair prices for accommodation and for transportation in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup.

Mr. President, In the name of our community, “Copa do Mundo 2010, Eu Vou”, I take this opportunity to thank you for your time and I look forward to an improvement and a positive resolution of this two critical matters, accommodation and domestic air transportation.

Best regards,

Berto Nogueira, Moderator of the Orkut community “Copa do Mundo 2010, Eu Vou”

Email: bertonsilva[at]hotmail.com