South Africa Prepares for World Cup

Nine host cities throughout South Africa give the country an opportunity to showcase its global appeal

By: By Chris Ponzi

Capetown’s Greepoint Stadium as of September 2009

Capetown’s Greepoint Stadium as
of September 2009

For those who haven’t yet heard, swim off that deserted island and listen up, because the 2010 FIFA World Cup is coming to South Africa.

The World Cup is arguably the international community’s premiere sporting event and, much like the players themselves, the country chosen to host its numerous fans and festivities is given an enormous opportunity to perform and be victorious.

“The eyes of the world will be on our country,” said Sthu Zungu, president of South African Tourism in North America.

She is not embellishing. There will be an estimated 26 billion viewers from across the globe tuning in to watch the 64 matches in nine host cities from June 11 to July 11.

“We believe that successfully hosting this event will reposition South Africa in the eyes of the world community, and redefine our South Africa brand as a global player on the world stage,” Zungu said. “Successfully hosting this event will reflect on how we are perceived as a center for trade and investment, business and commerce; as a leisure tourism destination; and as a business tourism destination, able to facilitate events of any size and magnitude.”

To prepare for the cup, a wide range of major infrastructure improvements are being implemented, for instance the upgrading of all three of the country’s international airports.

“We have substantially upgraded all three of our international airports, including the construction of a brand-new international airport at La Mercy in Durban,” said Zungu. “Our transportation networks are also being upgraded, including the introduction of the high-speed Gautrain in Johannesburg, which will carry passengers from Sandton to Tambo Airport in just 12 minutes, and the Bus Rapid Transit System, with service to the stadium. And finally, we have over 15,000 volunteers who will be assisting in every area of the tournament.”

One of the main cities for the World Cup will be Johannesburg, whose slogan for this year’s World Cup is “Score in the City With the Golden Touch,” a reinvention of the city’s original moniker as the City of Gold. According to Zungu, travelers will have the opportunity to enjoy more than just world-class soccer.

“Jozi, as it is known to the locals, is a bustling, cosmopolitan city, the financial center and heartbeat of South Africa,” she said.

The city is also home to numerous trendy restaurants and nightclubs. Visitors can revel in performances by local playwrights at the Market Theatre in Newtown, or go to a symphony concert or opera. Culinary enthusiasts can indulge in eclectic cuisine ranging from African and fresh seafood to Indian-inspired dishes. The warm climate also affords many opportunities for al fresco dining.

For those travelers who brought big empty suitcases hoping to fill them with trinkets and souvenirs, Johannesburg has abundant shopping options and is considered a Mecca for fashion, design and decor. Everything from exclusive designer labels to up-and-coming African artists can be found, and with the current exchange rate at eight South African rand to one U.S. dollar, shopping is quite affordable.

To help spread the word that South Africa is not only the host of the major FIFA event but a desirable holiday destination, South Africa appointed international soccer superstar Lucas Radebe to be its 2010 Global Tourism Ambassador. Radebe, one of South Africa’s most prominent sports figures and recipient of the FIFA Fair Play Award for his efforts to rid the sport of racism, is working with South African Tourism to help deliver messages and grow interest in South Africa globally. He was recently featured on the “CBS Early Show” where he presented anchor Dave Price with a specially designed South Africa 2010 scarf as he spoke of the “celebration that will unite not just the continent, but the whole world.”

For families and young soccer fans, South African Tourism is inviting parents and coaches to get their athletic kids enthusiastic for the game by teaching them the Diski. The Diski is a new dance based on soccer moves specially created by South Africa for the 2010 World Cup to express the country’s unique way of playing soccer. South Africa Tourism has even partnered with U.S. Youth Soccer and World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola to sponsor a Web video contest through Sunday, Dec. 13, to showcase Diski dance moves. The grand prize is a trip to South Africa for the entire youth team — parents and coach included — for eight days, seven nights, with visits to Johannesburg. Videos can be uploaded at

“Agents should tell their clients not to just come just for the football. South Africa possesses a wealth of tourist activities beyond the gates of the stadiums, including safari adventures, wonderful beaches, captivating cultural villages, world-class shopping centers, outstanding restaurants, pulsating nightlife, adventure tourism, seven World Heritage Sites, spectacular day drives on exceptionally good roads,” said Zungu. “The possibilities are endless!”

South Africa Tourism

World Cup Information