Ticket crisis as foreign fans turn backs on World Cup
Fewer than half the original number of expected overseas fans will be travelling to South Africa for the World Cup, FIFA, the governing body of world soccer has admitted.
As many as 500,000 tourists were expected to attend the month-long tournament. Now only around 220,000 foreigners are likely to go, a Fifa spokesman said.
The dramatic drop in demand for tickets is blamed on a combination of the global financial crisis, the expense of flights to and within South Africa and safety concerns in a country blighted by crime.
The World Cup was estimated to bring roughly €2bn into the South African economy. That sum will be cut dramatically if the predicted reduction in the number of foreign visitors is accurate.
Tourism officials said the figures were a disappointment.
Michael Tatalias, chief executive of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, said: "It's very disappointing, it's certainly not what we anticipated a few years ago, but it's inevitable because of the economic climate."
Danny Jordaan, CEO of the local organising committee, claimed the attendance would be comparable to the 2002 finals in Japan and South Korea.
"South Africa is a long-haul destination so we expect fans to come in and stay for a long period and, therefore, the (economic) impact will be greater.
"Reality in the world has changed," he said, adding that Britain and Germany, big providers of travelling fans, had been hit by the economic crisis "in a major way". (© Daily Telegraph, London)