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The 2010 soccer World Cup is not so much about the event itself, it is about the progress we must all make on our journey to get there.

This journey can be both personal and collective. I challenge even the most hardened cynic not to be quietly impressed by the achievements we will notch up over the next three years. Even those with no particular love of soccer must surely acknowledge this springboard to bigger and better things.

We have been invited by the world to give it our best shot, up our game and put Cape Town's very best face on offer. It is an unprecedented chance to finally consign afro-pessimism to the dustbin of history.

Achieving this will leave a legacy far more valuable than any new roads or stadium. The next few years will be marked in history as the time when Cape Town, and our nation, finally came of age and started to believe that - with the right attitude - a brighter future was possible.

Actions speak louder than words and this is an opportunity to show those who constantly rubbish their country how good we can be when we believe in ourselves. A successful World Cup is the way to create pride and hope in even the most negative of our fellow citizens. They must be told to "Put up or shut up!" They have nothing constructive to contribute - maybe this event will inspire even them!

The afro-pessimists, with their obstructive actions, will never prevail - the rest of us will simply work even harder to make a success of our city and our country. Their selfish and regressive actions are typical of the minority who smugly take pleasure in our failings but never acknowledge our successes.

The hopes and dreams of an entire city and province cannot be held hostage by the selfish actions of the few. Simply, the World Cup represents the greatest opportunity we will ever have to entrench the image and spirit of Cape Town in the global psyche and fast-track our vision of a "world class destination" in terms of both leisure travel and corporate activity.

This vision is supported by strategic objectives that set the scene for tourism development and the interventions required to achieve this.

Importantly, 2010 sets a very firm deadline for getting our collective civic house in order in terms of completing projects that were previously regarded as low priority. The prospect of spending two weeks in the full glare of the international media and the associated scrutiny of our global competitors is like a splash of cold water in the face.

My department is formulating draft by-laws on informal trading which will soon help us create an orderly and regulated sector which then becomes an attraction rather than the circus it is now.

The city will soon pass the so- called nuisance by-laws which will further assist in regulating the basic standards of behaviour expected by all citizens. This will have a significant impact on the ongoing battle against crime and grime.

The World Cup event creates the opportunity to ensure that the fundamental conditions are in place for an efficient and productive business and visitor environment that will encourage tourists to return.

Tourism is prioritised as a strategic sector to achieve two important national objectives namely, growing the economy and the combating of poverty through development.

Events are a mechanism to grow tourism and the larger the event the greater the opportunity to showcase the destination and expose the advantages we offer in terms of investment, return visits and even attracting skilled foreigners to make their home here.

This is because such a mega event unlocks and galvanises resources that otherwise would take years to amass and, even then, not with the synergy to gain the aggregated benefits.

That is the commercial rationale, the clinical logic behind why mega events are supported. What can 2010 do for Cape Town after the last whistle has been blown and the trophy held high? The answer lies in the legacy of infrastructure and spirit left behind. The most valuable legacy will be that of Cape Town as an inclusive city, a productive city that works for its citizens first, but that can host its visitors in a world class way.

Strategic priority number one identified in the City's Tourism Development framework is destination access. This refers to visitors being able to get to the destination (and move about once here) by air, train or otherwise. Direct flights and open skies are vital to buffering the stark seasons Cape Town traditionally experiences. The government's response and planning around transport infrastructure, particularly public transport, speaks to addressing that priority.

Skills development is a major challenge facing the city. There is very often a mismatch between what comes out of our institutions and what the real market can absorb. Linked with job creation, these two elements are the keys to meeting the city region set growth targets of at least 8%.

We need to maintain the existing infrastructure such as roads and basic services to create an environment in which tourism can thrive. Our visitors, local and international, need to be able to travel comfortably, safely and within their financial means, to our vast array of tourist attractions. The fact that we can drink tap water in Cape Town is part of our marketing edge over highly developed competitors that still can not get this fundamental right.

We should expand our public transport services and encourage locals and tourists to use this infrastructure on a regular basis. In order to get transport infrastructure of a high standard installed, but affordable for locals, the government should provide seed capital to launch these infrastructure projects and recover operating costs from users in the long run. This will enable citizens to travel to work or seek employment opportunities in the greater city in an affordable and efficient manner.

Tourists, like residents, need to feel safe in the city of Cape Town and security will become one of our main marketing advantages in future. We need to have highly visible policing and take up our moral responsibility to streetchildren and develop places of safety for them.

Let us work together with the private sector to turn this negative into a positive. An attitude of zero tolerance should be adopted by all law enforcement agencies in the city and citizens should be encouraged to take responsibility for the environment in which they live. This will contribute to fostering better relationships between police and citizens. Installing more functional CCTV cameras and conducting covert police operations in the city will help achieve this.

We must create tourism projects that involve the local communities at all levels and encourage the development of real South African experiences for our tourists. A programme of local involvement in all tourism developments (government and private sector) must be put in place to make sure skills transfer takes place and locals are empowered to own and operate tourism services in the near future.

We must enforce a responsible tourism charter and get business and communities to support these principles. Our products and experiences must reflect the increasing demands of the world market for responsible and sustainable tourism experiences. We need to conserve our local culture and environment to remain competitive in a world that is becoming homogenous in its tourism offerings.

We also need to address the issue of land, sea and air pollution that threatens the scenic beauty of the city.

There is so much to do and so little time. I invite every Capetonian to join the city in this great adventure. Who knows, given enough time we may even get the odd afro-pessimist offering to help!

Simon Grindrod is ID caucus leader and mayoral committee member for Economic Development and Tourism in the City of Cape Town. {jcomments on}