English tears could be good news for tourism industry

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Categories : Travel news

If England are knocked out in the early stages of the 2010 World Cup, English fans will be crying, but Cape Town tour operators could be smiling.

According to Martin Jansen van Vuuren, director of Grant Thornton Strategic Solutions, World Cup spectators whose teams are knocked out in the early rounds of the tournament could be a captive market for tour operators.

Few fans plan on their team being knocked out in the early stages, but if it is, some tour packages will allow them to either follow other teams or use the opportunity to travel around the country.

"Flights around that time are likely to be expensive and fans will have to pay a premium to go home early. So it is more likely that they will utilise their option to stay in South Africa, providing a huge opportunity for local tour operators."

According to Grant Thornton, Cape Town will benefit from this arrangement as it has been chosen as one of the holiday destinations for these fans. The tourism injection of these fans would be welcome in Cape Town.

With the winter weather being wetter and altitude lower in Cape Town than in other parts of the country where matches are being played, no teams have indicated yet that they will use the city as a base, even though Cape town Stadium will be the venue for eight games.

Cape Town is likely to benefit most if certain European teams, such as England, Germany and Holland, are knocked out early. These teams will bring a large number of fans familiar with Cape Town as a holiday and partying destination.

"How much Cape Town will benefit from increased tourism depends on which teams are knocked out and when," says Jansen van Vuuren.

"At this stage it is very difficult to predict how many World Cup tourists will come to Cape Town on these types of packages. But these fans will be a different type of visitor to the usual target audience."

Football fans are likely to do various day trips for sightseeing, but would want to be close to a TV during games. This means they probably won't be taking two - or three-day trips into the rural areas, preferring to stay close to the restaurants and nightlife in Cape Town itself.

"Tour operators should be aware of these dynamics to capitalise on this market," says Jansen van Vuuren. "Trips would be most suited from say 09:00 to 16:00, allowing fans to get up later after a night out and get back early enough to watch the game.

"They are also more likely to be travelling in small groups without children and/or spouses so the activities they will be interested in will probably be more male - and sports-orientated than family-orientated.

"The hospitality industry will need to be flexible enough to adapt to the requirements of a very broad fan base."

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