Tag Archives: soccer fans

“Tourist torrent” expected for the festive season? Not in the Cape!

One wonders where the tourism authorities get some of their information from!  While a The Times journalist may have enjoyed the alliteration in his headline on 7 December (“All set for a tourist torrent”), he may in fact have vastly exaggerated the implications of the results from a World Cup survey as to tourism to South Africa over the “season”/”festive season”.  This contradicts what most tourism players are experiencing, in what is set to possibly become one of the worst summer seasons ever, with poorer accommodation bookings than in previous years for coastal suburbs/towns such as Camps Bay, Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay, and even worse in inland towns.

The journalist was reporting on the presentation of the SA Tourism and Department of Tourism study on the effect of the World Cup, a survey which had been conducted in June and July amongst World Cup visitors, as well as guests flying out of Cape Town International, OR Thambo, and ten other airports in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Lesotho.  As a market researcher in a previous career, I shudder at the thought of the research methodology (unspecified in the S A Tourism release) which may have been used – in Cape Town eight departing guests were interviewed at the close of the Cape Town semi-final at the airport, on which basis a local daily proclaimed the Cape’s success in hosting the tournament in our city!   Both Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited used dubious questionnaire formulation in surveys conducted amongst local tourism players during the World Cup.

SA Tourism’s Chief Marketing Officer Roshene Singh is a respected marketer, and I had the pleasure of meeting her a few months ago.   But the quote attributed to her in the article seems unbelievable: “We believe we’re going to have a bumper season (note her word, which the sub-headline in the article changed to ‘festive season’!) because people who are regular visitors in June and July deferred their holidays because of the influx of soccer fans then, so we expect them to now visit.”   Given the seasonal nature of tourism in the Western Cape, with May, June and July being the worst three months for the tourism industry in the Western Cape, our region will definitely not be expecting a “tourist torrent” in the next three weeks/three months, if we are to rely on these ‘displaced’ holidaymakers!

The rest of  The Times report  reflects the findings of the World Cup survey, which showed that 310000 foreign soccer fans had visited South Africa for the World Cup, said Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and that 90% would consider visiting again.  Key findings are as follows:

*   The economy benefited by R3,6 billion (the cost of generating this income was not mentioned!)

*   59 % of visitors travelled to South Africa for the first time due to the soccer event

*   220000 soccer visitors visited Gauteng, 108384 the Western Cape, and 83819 KwaZulu-Natal

*   the largest number of World Cup visitors came from the USA (30175), followed by Mocambique (a surprise second place at 24483), Britain (22802), Swaziland (19593), Brazil (14815) and Australia (12210).

*   68%  rated South Africa as an “extremely good” host, and 29 % rated it as a “good host”, an excellent scorecard.

*  Just over half of the soccer fans who had been to other World Cup events, said South Africa was a better host country – a surprisingly low figure, given all the publicity one saw and the highest ever FIFA rating – 33% rated it on a par with previous host countries, and 16 % rated it worse.

The bizarre (and dangerous) projection by our tourism marketing authority, based on very indirect information obtained from a survey conducted six months ago, in a period since which South Africa’s post-World Cup image has taken some serious knocks, and in which period the Rand has remained too strong to make South Africa an affordable tourist destination from the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA, is irresponsible, in our opinion, and does not reflect the reality of bookings by the accommodation industry.  The reference to the bumper season must have been made during the presentation of the survey results to journalists by Singh, as the official media release of SA Tourism does not refer to this projection at all!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Hotel news: Cape Town has too many hotels!

The frantic building of new hotels for the World Cup has led to an oversupply of hotel rooms, says Arthur Gillis, CEO of Protea Hotels, reports Business Report.

The oversupply is so bad that Gillis predicts that some hotels will go out of business, or will be converted into flats or old-age homes.   Gillis says his company has been approached by hotels, to be taken over by Protea.  Branded hotels with international marketing arrangements will be the only ones to survive the hotel accommodation glut, Gillis said.  According to Gillis, the recessionary depressed America and Europe will make itself felt in the local accommodation industry for another twelve months. 

The Protea Hotel’s 15 on Orange is only now starting to attract larger numbers of tourists, including film crews, having been open for a year already.

Gillis says that delighted World Cup soccer fans that visited Cape Town three months ago will not be coming back this season, but they will recommend the city to friends and family.  “People in the UK are getting fed up with austerity and some will probably decide they would like to go abroad this year, to somewhere different, particularly if airfares stay at reasonable levels” he said.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.comTwitter: @WhaleCottage

South Africa scores R30 million from online World Cup coverage

The World Cup was an unprecedented success, in terms of its organisation and the tremendous goodwill it caused amongst locals as well as international soccer fans.  In addition, and having a longer lasting effect, is that the above-the-line media as well as social media impact of the World Cup set new records for this event, not just for South Africa, but for the soccer body FIFA too.


*   3,2 million soccer fans attended the 32 matches around the country, and about one third of the tickets were bought by about 350000 international visitors – the word-of-mouth feedback to their friends and family is the most credible marketing South Africa could wish for, and is free-of-charge!

*   Highest TV coverage ever was achieved, and reached an unprecedented 700 million viewers for the Final alone 

*   The online coverage was the most dramatic, because much of it was a new way of communicating to soccer fans and about the World Cup, reports the Weekend Argus:

     +   BBC News online ran 120 stories, and the Washington Post 48 stories during the World Cup, both being influential online newspaper services

      +   The FIFA.com website had 150 million unique visitors during the World Cup, three times as many as in 2006. 

       +   South Africa’s unique identity, personality and character was woven into the soccer reporting by the international online media, and so the country’s ability to manage the tournament, and our unique vuvuzela and makarapa became world terms on blog posts, Twitter, comments to blog posts and online articles, and on Facebook.

       +   The value of the online coverage was just short of R30 million, based on 148 million persons communicating about South Africa in the context of the World Cup online, calculated by BrandsEye, a local online agency.   This value was created by soccer fans and the media for free, and did not cost South African Tourism a cent in coverage!

       +   Just more than half of the mentions (58%) about the country came from the USA, a surprisingly small 10% from the UK, and only 8% from South Africa.

       +   The mentions were analysed in terms of degree of positivity, and 55% were “strongly positive”, 40% were factual or neutral in terms of content, and 5% were negative.

       +   Twitter played an important role in spreading the word about South Africa, not only via celebrity (e.g. Paris Hilton has more than 2 million followers) and soccer star Tweets, but also Twitter accounts with huge numbers of followers (e.g. Sports Illustrated, with close to 285000 followers).

In June traffic to the Whale Cottage website almost trebled to 129000 unique visitors, due to the World Cup, but also due to the engagement of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock, as the blog contains a post about the couple attending a New Year’s party in Fresnaye 18 months ago. 

It has also been reported that the great World Cup coverage for South Africa has raised the bar for the marketing of Brazil.  The 2014 World Cup host country has started its marketing already, by launching an international marketing campaign four years ahead of its tournament, a first in the history of the FIFA World Cup, says Dr Niklaus Eberl, an internal branding consultant for the German and South African World Cups (no doubt for Brazil to come too!).

In Business Day Dr Eberl was reported as saying the the Brazilian tourism agency Ambratur has launched an ambitious marketing strategy, which plans to double the number of tourists to Brazil (to 10 million per year, the same target as that of South Africa) and treble the value of tourism in the next ten years.  The “Brazil is calling you” campaign aims to reach 400 million consumers in 100 countries, with a budget of $30 million this year alone.   Brazil’s President Lula da Silva said: “The success of our African brothers represents a tremendous challenge to the Brazilian people.  We are learning from them to ensure that we will present a World Cup as beautiful as 2010”.   The Brazilian marketing budget is said to make that of South Africa look like “small change”!   Brazil is planning to spend five times the R30 billion of South Africa on its infrastructure.  The country also wants to equal or better South Africa’s 90 % score from FIFA for its handling of the World Cup.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

So what impact did the World Cup really make on Cape Town and the Cape?

Cape Town Routes Unlimited has released statistics, comparing the tourism performance between June 2009 and 2010.  In general it would appear that tourism facilities fared better in June this year compared to last June, due to the World Cup, which kicked off on 11 June.

 The following statistics were provided in the Cape Town Routes Unlimited “World Cup Impact” report:

1.  The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway received 63861 visitors in June, an increase of 69 %

2.   Boulders Beach in Simonstown had just less than 20 000 visitors from 1-20 June this year, compared to 21 314 for the whole of June 2009

3.   Kirstenbosch received 7 % more visitors in June, at 25 469, compared to last year

4.   The V&A Waterfront received 1,6 million visitors in June, up 7 % compared to last year.

5.   Robben Island doubled its visitor numbers between June this year and last year.

6.   International arrivals at Cape Town International airport increased by 18 % in June relative to a year ago, (and by 24 % for the period 11 June – 16 July, according to Cape Town Tourism’s World Cup Impact report, released yesterday).

7.   Domestic arrivals at Cape Town International airport increased by 10 %, at 261260 in June 

8.   The Cape Town “Lodging Statistics Summary” (where did they get that name from?) seems very wrong, from own experience and discussions with other industry colleagues, given the exceptionally poor May 2010 accommodation bookings.  We publish the information with a warning (the Cape Town Routes Unlimited report does not identify the source of its statistics):

             Occupancy:                 2010                                              2009

             April                             59%                                                 62%

             May                              55%                                                 46%

             June                              68%                                                 41%

9.  The FIFA Fan Fest at the Grand Parade had its best day on 11 June, the Opening Match between Bafana Bafana and Mexico, with 41000 visitors, and had to be closed at that number due to overcrowding. The second busiest day was the Bafana Bafana match against France on 16 June, with 39000 visitors.  The quietest day was 21 June, with just less than 8000 soccer fans.

10.   In June the busiest Fan Walk day was when Holland played Cameroon, with an estimated 72000 walkers between the City centre and the Cape Town Stadium.  The Portugal/Korea DPR match attracted only 25 000 – 30 000 walkers, a day with heavy rain.

11.   Public Viewing set up in provincial towns was highest on 11 June in all such towns, and highest overall in Worcester (8000), followed by George (more than 7000).  Attendance dropped strongly on other days, and night matches were not well supported where public transport had not been organised.

12.   The V&A Waterfront Gateway (one assumes the one at the Clocktower) attracted 23911 visitors in June, up by 8 %, but the value of bookings increased by 55%.   Only 94 bookings were made last month, a disappointing number, given the traffic in the V&A Waterfront in this period.

13.   The Cape Town Tourism International airport office served 6841 visitors, the City branch 1206, the Table Mountain Cableway branch 849, and Kirstenbosch 803 visitors.  No comparable 2009 figures are provided, which is a surprise and disappointment.  (Cape Town Tourism’s World Cup Impact report states that 71 % more international visitors and 15 % more domestic tourists visited a Cape Town Tourism branch during the World Cup period – even though I have never seen information about the origin of the tourist asked) 

14.   Franschhoek claims to have received more than 4000 visitors (no 2009 comparative figures) in its Information office in June, which did not translate into much business as far as accommodation and restaurant bookings are concerned.  Paarl claims to have served 1 961 visitors (no 2009 comparative figures), and Knysna Tourism received 1433 visitors, double the number of last June.   Ceres received 1173 visitors, treble the 2009 figure, but this may have been due to the heavy snowfalls last month.

It is a pity that 2009 figures are not available across the board for the statistics provided, and that the 11 days of the World Cup are not reflected either, as Cape Town and the towns close to it were fuller in July, given the round of 16, quarter-final and semi-final matches played in Cape Town in this period.  Yet it is commendable that statistics were made available at all, no matter how questionable some of them appear to be!

Cape Town Tourism’s World Cup Impact report, presented to the media yesterday, claims that 200000 of the 350000 international visitors that came to South Africa for the World Cup came to Cape Town (even though its earlier pre-World Cup surveys showed that the majority of such soccer fans planned to visit Cape Town!).   One wonders how this estimate was made.  Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold said that the World Cup was never about the short term, but about long-term benefits for Cape Town, turning soccer fans into fans of Cape Town.  City of Cape Town Mayco Member of Economic Development and Tourism Felicity Purchase noted that events hosted in winter months are needed to counter the seasonality of Cape Town’s tourism industry.   The 750 journalists that were shown around Cape Town loved the city, describing it as “photogenic”, and falling in love with it.   The Report also addresses accommodation occupancy during the World Cup, but its “research” was so poorly conducted that their misleading results will not be reported here (read our criticism of their intital results, mid-way through the World Cup).

What all the reports lose sight off is the extremely poor May that the tourism and hospitality industry experienced, a vacuum having been created due to the World Cup, which wiped out any gains made between 11 June – 11 July!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com