Today the Africa Cup of Nations draws to a close, when Nigeria takes on little known Burkina Faso of West Africa, in the final to be played this evening at 20h30, after the Closing Ceremony commences at the (temporarily AFCON renamed) National Stadium at 18h45. While Johannesburg and Durban appear to have benefited from the African soccer tournament, Cape Town has seen no tourism bookings during or even for after the tournament.
Cape Town lost out on being a Host City for AFCON 2013, Councillor Grant Pascoe, responsible for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, appearing to have asked too many questions of the Local Organising Committee, especially about the guarantees from government. This cost our city the opportunity to be a Host City, to see top soccer being played, and denied the tourism industry much needed income. Pascoe tried to offer Cape Town soccer fans a consolation prize of a Bafana Bafana friendly against Norway prior to the AFCON 2013 kick-off, which had no tourism benefit at all. Pascoe also explained that the City had committed to other events at the same time as AFCON 2013, and couldn’t cancel these events. The only event was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, which had booked the soccer stadia in Johannesburg and Cape Town during the AFCON 2013 period. Cancelling the concerts due to AFCON would have cost R90 million. The ‘reckless management’ of the venue for the band’s performance at the National Stadium in Johannesburg was criticised, in impacting on its pitch, but it was judged to be acceptable for today’s Final earlier this week.
The smaller venues appear to not have as done as well as those in cities. Last night’s third place play-off between Ghana and Cape Verde in Port Elizabeth was disappointing, with many unsold seats, it was reported. Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium was sold out for all its matches in which Bafana Bafana played, as well as for the semi-final earlier this week, reported The Mercury. Durban has proudly stated that its R60 million cost of participating as an AFCON 2013 Host City has generated benefits in excess of the expenditure, estimated at R100 million already. Tourism benefits must have been disappointing, for Durban admitting that ‘Afcon was not on the scale of the World Cup, and we did not see thousands of foreign soccer fans fill our hotels to capacity’. AFCON 2013 has been a very localised African tournament, with little international coverage. On Germany’s leading TV station ZDF, for example, there has not been a mention to date.
Citing its success in selling out all Bafana Bafana matches, Durban challenged the Local Organising Committee to give it opening or closing ceremonies in future. It proclaimed itself as the ‘best Afcon 2013 host city’, and bragged that the television coverage in Africa would position Durban as a ‘leading sports and tourism destination‘, hardly a positioning Cape Town would like to see go to Durban. Durban seized the opportunity to sign a R4,4 million deal with Eurosport, on which inserts about Durban, and its sport celebrities such as Chad le Clos, and the Sharks rugby players, were featured.
Yesterday Kfm presenter Ian Bredenkamp shared in his radio show that the Cape Town Stadium, at which the Stormers vs Boland rugby match was played yesterday afternoon, had been an ideal venue for a rugby match, compared to Newlands Stadium.
Councillor Pascoe proudly Tweeted that he is on his way to London ‘to meet with 4 Premier Division Clubs’, obviously to attract them to play at the Cape Town Stadium. Pascoe would have been fired from his position in a corporation for his faux pas in causing Cape Town to lose out as Host City. However, as a senior DA politician in Cape Town, he is strong enough to retain his position as Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, despite not having much knowledge about the portfolio he controls, and therefore he has had to call in Anton Groenewald to run the show for him!
POSTSCRIPT 10/2: SA Tourism says it is ‘happy’ with visitor numbers attracted by AFCON 2013, according to Standard Digital News. Whilst actual tourism numbers are not yet available, the expectation was that 150000 soccer fans would have attended the tournament, generating $154 million for the economy. The tourism authority focused its soccer marketing on Kenya, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria. Hosting AFCON 2013 cost South Africa $53,5 million.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage