Mixed feelings about 2010 opportunities

Date: April 27, 2010
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The announcement that South Africa would host the 2010 World Cup prompted a whirlwind of heavy investment in infrastructure, with high expectations for an economic boom. Obviously, the 2010 World Cup will also boost tourism, but how far will these benefit society as a whole, not just a privileged few?

Some in the country are skeptical about how widespread economic opportunities will really be during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Others, point out that their businesses are already booming.

Christina Buthelezi, a 61-year-old Dry Cleaning Assistant at Lemmy’s Dry Cleaners in Johannesburg’s suburb of Soweto, feels that very few women entrepreneurs will benefit. She says that in her own opinion, the situation for women will not change much during the world cup football matches. “Only a few women, particularly those engaged in hotel businesses would see a slight difference by hosting foreign visitors to their hotels,” argues Buthelezi.

However, Buthelezi does agree that the hotel industry will be booming. “While most tourists to the 2010 FIFA World Cup will make use of four and five star accommodation facilities, there will also be a market for simple, clean and affordable accommodation, located in townships such as Soweto,” she adds.

Buthelezi’s belief that only a small segment of the population, such as those in the accommodation industry, stand to benefit from the upcoming World Cup is a sentiment expressed by many, especially informal traders. Most of the nation’s host cities have dislodged such traders from around prime-trading stadium areas, either because of FIFA regulations, or to make way for new developments.

Enid Gayizana is an informal trader in Cape Town whose hopes for profiting from the World Cup were all but shattered when she was moved from her space at a busy taxi rank. “2010 means a lot to me,” she says. “And I do not know if I lose my opportunity now, where I can find myself in the future. I am also interested to be part of history, to say, ‘Oh yes, that 2010 gave us such an opportunity.'”

On the other hand, entrepreneurs such as Morwamatime Matsimala, a taxi operator in Johannesburg, are more optimistic. Matsimala says he will gain a lot by ferrying football fans during the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals. He says because of that, he was very excited when his country was selected by FIFA to hold the World Cup.

“I have purchased a new Mercedes car ML 320 which will be used to carry football fans from foreign countries during the forthcoming event,” he says. He says he and his colleague in the transport sector are more than prepared to keep busy during the mega-event.

For the FIFA World Cup, smooth and efficient transport systems are required for football tourists, which should operate daily from the opening match to the closing match. “Transport facilities must be properly planned for, with regard to appropriate location, safety and security management, disaster management and traders,” he points out.

For Paulinal Tema, a 30-year-old assistant manager at Lolo’s Guest House in Soweto, the World Cup means big business. Tema says her guest house is fully booked. “We have refurbished our guest house, ready to attend our guests who will be coming to South Africa for the football match,” she says.

Although she is not the owner of the business, Tema is very excited about the event and its possibilities. She added that this was is a one-in-a-lifetime occasion. “I am very happy to be serving them in this accommodation.”

Tema says that levels of interest in sport are generally higher among males than females, but points out that fans are at the heart of any sporting event. “Sport fans and consumers are the pivot upon which sport leverages its popularity,” she says.

She says she will be watching live television broadcasts, listen to radio commentary; read the sports pagers of the daily newspapers and see sports websites to see the winning teams. She remarked, “I will be very happy if South African football team wins the finals and bring the FIFA World Cup trophy.”

Tema says on the other side football fans will also buy goods and sport branded merchandise and travel extensively to attend these events, which will boost the tourism sector. “Sport fans can be divided; some will be watching TV and using the internet to watch the games and keep up with the scores, because everyone cannot afford to go to the stadium,” she says.

There are also services such as translation needed. As tourists need to be able to communicate in a variety of languages, this will provide opportunities for local and foreign language speakers to provide services.

There is no doubt that some in the country stand to gain tremendously from the World Cup, while others may even lose. Across the country there are ongoing work being done to ensure that as many gain as possible, and in the last days ahead, there is a need to ensure that there is as much progress as possible.

Nasser Kigwangallah is a journalist from Tanzania. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, produced during a “Business Unusual” workshop


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