Southern African News Features                                           SANF 09 No 16, August 2009
SADC hospitality industry gears up for 2010
by Kizito Sikuka

The hospitality industry in southern Africa is actively gearing up to host thousands of visitors as the 2010 World Cup Soccer final fast approaches.

This major world sporting event will be held for the first time on African soil in South Africa in June-July next year.

According to the world football governing body, FIFA, more than 90,000 soccer fans and officials mainly from qualifying countries are expected to come to South Africa for the finals. This is in addition to as many as 400,000 tourists from all over the world that are expected to visit Africa during the tournament.

The anticipated huge turnout and South Africa’s acknowledgement that it can only accommodate about half of the guests has prompted its southern African neighbours to intensify their tourism programmes to woo some of the tourists.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is endowed with numerous attractions such as the Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Namib Desert, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, pristine coastal beaches, game parks and reserves teeming with wildlife, dramatic scenery and the rich traditional culture throughout the region.

To ensure the world enjoys and samples some of these attractions as well as to enable the region to cater for the sudden boom in arrivals, the SADC countries are spending millions of dollars in refurbishment and construction of new hotels, airports and other infrastructure.

Member states are also taking the opportunity to strengthen regional projects such as the Transfrontier Conservation Areas and national parks.

These conservation areas include the Kavango Zambezi Conservation Area between Namibia, Angola, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area which straddles Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique.

Other strategies employed by the region include joint marketing campaigns that go beyond 2010 as well as crafting of regional tourism packages, which encourage visitors to tour more than one country in southern Africa.

In June, nine SADC member states launched the Boundless Southern Africa Expedition targeted at marketing the countries to the soccer world cup final and beyond. These are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The expedition, which started in Botswana, highlights the conservation of the environment and showcases the diversity of southern Africa’s people and their rich culture.

The hospitality industry in some SADC member states has taken the lead to invite foreign teams to camp in their respective countries before and during the 2010 finals.

Several neighbouring countries have approached a number of teams such as Brazil and Germany that they expect to do well and thus remain in the region throughout the tournament, and are confident that they have the necessary facilities to host visiting soccer teams.

In other SADC countries such as Angola, where the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations will be held next January-February, construction of new hotels has advanced with most located in Luanda.

Angola has set aside more than US$270 million for rebuilding airports to ensure the smooth movement of visitors to both the World Cup and the African Cup of Nations.

Botswana is refurbishing the Sir Seretse Khama Airport to handle bigger aircraft as is Zimbabwe for the Victoria Falls Airport. In Lesotho and Swaziland work is in progress to market the two southern African countries to potential tourists during the world finals.

Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia are also positioning themselves to benefit from the finals through upgrading their facilities as well as packaging attractions.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar risk losing out from the business of the finals because of political instability.

An urgent solution to the political and civil unrest would see both countries hosting some of the visitors to southern Africa and enable the 2010 Soccer World Cup to significantly contribute towards economic growth in the whole SADC region.

A total of 32 nations from all the five continents will take part in the finals.

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