December 06, 2010
Believe it or not, way back in the long-ago time of before the 2010 World Cup, there were doubts about the host of that tournament, too. While FIFA giddily patted itself on the back for giving the African continent its first World Cup, many wondered whether it was such a good idea. Some questioned whether fans would travel all the way to South Africa amid the economic downturn and security fears, others questioned whether spending money on a fleet of stadiums it wouldn't need beyond the tournament was the best use of funds for the country and still others wondered whether all of that would be overshadowed by an octopus in the end.
Well, the World Cup in South Africa went off without a hitch (except for a bunch of awful referee decisions, trouble selling tickets and everything related to England's performance), leaving all those Debbie Downers who asked all those silly questions before the tournament began to suck on the business end of a vuvuzela. Right?
Not quite. It only took a month for the deserted stadiums to prove to be an unsustainable drain on local economies and now, Reuters reports that the biggest sporting event on Earth failed to bring in the money South Africa expected.
Tourism during the June-July tournament brought in some 3.6 billion rand ($519.6 million), far less than the government had initially expected, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told reporters.
The global economic downturn contributed to fewer overseas spectators attending the games, making it difficult for President Jacob Zuma's government to recoup the nearly 40 billion rand it had spent on infrastructure.
Meanwhile, FIFA had no trouble making fistfuls of money on its end. Naturally. But while the revenue generated might be something worth panicking about, the good news is that the visitors who did show up really liked South Africa!
"Almost 90 percent of tourists said they would consider visiting South Africa again, while 96 percent said they would recommend the country to their friends."
More than 300,000 people visited the country for the tournament, with 38 percent coming from within Africa, followed by 24 percent from Europe, 23 percent from Central and South America and 11 percent from North America.
See? South Africa might still make its money back on this thing, yet. Just as soon as those people maybe come back at some uncertain date in the future (and possibly with their friends!), this will be a resounding success.
Photo: Getty Images