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South Africa Prepares for the 2010 World Cup; Massive Infrastructure Construction Required for Soccer's World Cup Tournaments; Accommodations, Entertainment to Expand for the Tournaments.

Aired June 13, 2009 - 03:30:00   ET


RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Picture the scene. A hundred thousand fans, a final of the World Cup. Hello, and welcome to "BUSINESS TRAVELLER." I'm Richard Quest, this month reporting from South Africa. And right now, in Soccer City Stadium where the opening match and the finale of the World Cup 2010 will be played. Nope, it's not a sports program. Instead, on this month's "BUSINESS TRAVELLER," we're looking at tourism, the World Cup and how South Africa will benefit.

Coming up, they've got stadia, sun, sea and sand. And next year, South Africa has World Cup football too. Constructions boom, but will there be enough room? And taking time to visit the old-fashioned way.

The World Cup is South Africa's chance to prove it's amongst the very best when it comes to hosting tough sporting events. But the country is already a leading long-haul tourist destination. In 2010, more than 10 million visitors are expected. And it's raised a very real question -- how will they cope?

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICIAL: The 2010 FIFA World Cup will be organized in South Africa. (APPLAUSE).

QUEST: 2004, and South Africa is chosen to host the World Cup, the first time the tournament will be held on the African continent.

Five years on and the World Cup dream is just about becoming a footballing reality.

South Africa is a country under construction. $615 million have been spent redeveloping airports, $400 million on upgrading roads and transportation systems, another $600 million on building five new stadiums and renovating five old ones, like Soccer City.

With about 70 percent of the main stadium completed, now they're doing the little details, such as putting the seats in. This is one of the 94,000 that will go into the national stadium.

With exactly a year to go, beyond the bricks and mortar, you'd be hard-pushed to tell the World Cup is coming. It's an issue that FIFA's president, Sepp Biatter, highlighted during one of his visits earlier this year.

SEPP BIATTER, PRESIDENT, FIFA: And missing -- missing is advertising campaign, publicity, public relations, banners when we arrive at the airport, people (INAUDIBLE) FIFA's Confederation's Cup. We are ready. Come and visit us.

QUEST: Danny Jordaan, the man overseeing the preparations, defends the lack of bells and whistles at the moment. It's all part of the plan.

DANNY JORDAAN, CEO, 2010 LOCAL ORGANIZIING COMMITTEE: What's the use of having the signs up and not having the stadiums ready, not having the airports ready. First things first. The infrastructure at 100 percent completion and then we can get excited about the niceties, the billboards, the signage, the branding of buildings and streets. And that is also coming up.

QUEST: The local headquarters is right next door to Soccer City where the organizers can keep close eyes on the construction.

The beauty of this stadium is it doesn't actually look that big from the outside. It fits in quite nicely to the surroundings. The colors, the curve of it, it all elegantly sets into the area.

JORDAAN: Yes. We wanted to emphasize the point that we are African, but world classes. This is an African part of color bash (ph). It will light up at night. And it is a total football stadium where everyone will not be too far removed from the center circle. And it will be an amazing setting for the opening MATCH as well as the final.

QUEST: And we know that South Africa is used to coping with 9.5 million tourists. The problem is they're not all at once and they're not all trying to get into the same place at once. So on -- during the World Cup, you are going to have these vast numbers of people trying to, if you like, descend on particular places.

JORDAAN: We have more than 1,000 buses that will be available from auto parks. That is the major company running buses. We have, for the event, 450,000 buses for the match, 450,000, so, yes, we are focused on the professional ground transport.

QUEST: Transport in South Africa has always been a bone of contention. And all those new buses will add to the heavy congestion in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The local feels the World Cup can't provide a quick fix.

WILFRED MOLE, SOUTH AFRICAN BUSINESSMAN: A journey that should take you 20 minutes can take 2.5 hours. And it's probably the single biggest burden, possibly aside from crime, that the average citizen has to put up with. Of course, they've got used to it. And I think that the unwary soccer tourist, if he's not careful, will in fact be ensnared by that type of congestion. And I think public transport is a long, long-term development program. And I don't think, to be fair to the government, that they can expect to really -- to create a public transport renaissance in the next 12 months.

QUEST: South Africa has done its planning and put in place an infrastructure for the expected number of guests. But what about tourists who decide, at the last minute, they have to be in South Africa to experience the World Cup.

Can South Africa cope with an influx of additional tourists who've just come on a whim to be here?

JORDAAN: Well, if you look at the high-end of our tourist season, that is December, we have in and around 850,000 and one million tourists at the time. So if we can cope, our target for the World Cup is on a cumulative basis, 450,000. We should be able to cope with an influx.

QUEST: When all is said and done, South Africa has no choice. In 12 months' time, like it or not, everything must be ready.

And when the forming glitterati have all up sticks and gone, the money generated by the World Cup will be a glimmer of hope to buffer the worst effects of this global recession.

In just a moment, thousands of fans, will there be enough bed? And staying safe on South Africa's streets.


QUEST: Welcome back to "CNN BUSINESS TRAVELLER" in South Africa.

And I'm now n Ellis Park (ph) stadium here in Johannesburg, one of the 10 stadia that's being prepared and readied for the World Cup.

Ellis Park, it holds roughly 61,000 fans. Even with its renovations, the capacity hasn't changed that much. Across South Africa, that's been one of the major challenges, renovation, building new facilities, but at the same time, working out exactly what will be required.

Take accommodation, for instance, how many beds do they actually need for all those fans and visitors to rest their weary heads. Accommodation, it's been one of the big issues for the World Cup, as Ayesha Durgahee explains.


AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pink and distinctive, the Mount Nelson, one of Cape Town's signature hotels, open since 1890 serving tea for 110 years. It's now getting ready for the World Cup.

(on camera): With the Mount Nelson's interiors in history, it's had a wide range of guests, from politicians, royalty and film stars. And the thought of soccer fans enjoying a spot of artisan tea seems a little out of character for the hotel.

NICK SEEWER, G.M. MOUNT NELSON HOTEL: We've had football fans here before. We've had rugby fans. We've had the English ruby team stay here a couple of years ago. So we're used to all types, across the board, all types of guests who come to the hotel. It'll be interesting. It'll be great fun.

DURGAHEE: The Mount Nelson has been approached by MATCH, the company FIFA hires to organize tickets, transport and accommodation for the World Cup.

Hotels that sign up have to block out more 80 percent of their rooms at a fixed rate. There's also a clause that allows MATCH to cancel rooms according to supply and demand. Requirements, hotels say, are too restrictive and risky.

SEEWER: We're very happy to talk to MATCH. We are a hotel which is very much in demand. We get a lot of repeat customers. It's very difficult to align yourself with one organization. So, you know, we will help. And we can't let our repeat customers down. They've been asking me for rooms for the last two to three years, saying don't give my room away. So, you know, it's difficult for hotels such as the Mount Nelson to put all our rooms into one basket. We can't do that.

DURGAHEE: While hotels weigh out the pros and cons, MATCH had initially considered using ships and universities for extra accommodations, but as a last resort. Instead though, for the first time, it's gone for guest houses and bed and breakfasts.

Despite this new move, MATCH is being criticized by the official tourism board for being too aggressive, accusing them of bullying tactics.

JAIME BYROM, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, MATCH EVENT SERVICES: You can't force people to sign up. What you can do is you can encourage them. You can go to worships and organized events in their communities. And we certainly have had a lot of support again from the tourism and enterprise partnership, very committed to the process, the grading counsels for that have become very committed to the process. And we do encourage them. We believe that it is good for them to experience the work up and to be a service provider to the work up. But at the end of the day, if they choose not to participate -- and we certainly don't take exception to that.

DURGAHEE: So far, MATCH has secured 36,000 rooms of big chain hotels, like Protea, Westin Grand and Southern Sun, and have still a fair way to go before it hits its target of 50,000. Even if all of South Africa's hotels sign up, there could still be a shortage of rooms.

(on camera): Which is why MATCH is trying something completely new. They're looking at different countries and regions to make up the numbers. In fact, if you follow the coast around and past the Cape of Good Hope, soccer fans could find themselves staying in Mauritius.

(voice-over): With 4,000 rooms already locked down, the hotels in Mauritius are confident that fans will be happy to make the 3.5-hour flight to South Africa on match days.

BYROM: When started ticket sales in February this year, we never expected the huge level of requests that we had from all over the world. When you look at the hundreds of thousands of ticket applicants who have applied for tickets from all over the world, from every region of the world, 204 countries have people who have requested tickets to come to South Africa. It does remind you that, at the end of the day, accommodation will be critical to the success of 2010.

DURGAHEE: Next June, it should be a win-win situation. Hotels get to be full at a time when tourism is slow in South Africa's winter. And with a handful of new hotels being built for the fans, there should be enough room to go around.


QUEST: Hosting the World Cup doesn't come along very often. So South Africa has taken the opportunity of using the occasion to spend billions on new infrastructure. And besides the stadia themselves, nowhere is that more visible than right here at the airport.

What used to be a dark and frankly rather miserable building with a nasty experience involved has now turned into this, a $2 billion redevelopment worthy of an international airport.

So as the World Cup gets closer, more people will decide it's time to visit South Africa.

Once you've arrived, getting about, staying safe, how do you do it? Robin Curnow now gives us the information you need to know.


ROBIN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Africa has the second-highest murder rates in the world after Colombia, giving it the reputation of being one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

(on camera): Now, this is going to be one of the fan parks in 2010 and, of course, during the confederation's cup. And for football fans, of course, they need to know that they're safe. So it's places like this here in central Johannesburg where you'll see extra police. Tens of thousands or police are being deployed ahead of these major football tournaments.

The public transport network here is relatively undeveloped, which is why most locals chose to share a ride.

(on camera): Just in front of us is a mini-bus taxi. Be ware of these taxis. They drive like crazy men sometimes. And they own the road. Even if you think you have right of way, be warned, they might just stop suddenly in front of you in the middle of the road for no apparent reason.

(voice-over): They may have a bad reputation but, last year, there were no reported accidents involving tourists. But if you prefer to travel by private taxi, remember that this isn't New York, London or Hong Kong. The cabs here don't cruise the streets looking for customers. So make sure you call ahead to book.

(on camera): If you're renting a car, remember to keep the windows rolled up and the doors locked. South Africa is known for hijackings, so you don't want to make yourself more vulnerable by giving robbers and thieves easy access to your car.

(voice-over): Another tip, resist the urge to stop for an apparently stranded vehicle. It could be a ploy by hijackers.

(on camera): Someone, particularly a South African, might give you directions that include the line "turn left at the robot" or "turn right at the second set of robots." That's just the way South Africans call traffic lights. So as you can see, we are now waiting at the red robot.

If you are thinking of coming, don't be deterred by the fact that you're worried about your safety or you think it's too dangerous. That would do yourself a disservice and, of course, the South Africans.

(voice-over): The country does have a high crime rate. But with the thousands of extra police being drafted in for the World Cup competition, it couldn't be a safer time to visit South Africa.


QUEST: When we come back after the break, putting perspective into African tourism, the World Cup 2010.


QUEST: Indaba, where the tourist industry in Southern Africa gathers to show the world the best it has to offer, including this, the FIFA World Cup television commercial, launched here in Indaba. If will be viewed by 600 million people in the lead up to the World Cup.

For Didi Moyle, however, this tournament is about more than just soccer and stadiums.

DIDI MOYLE, CEO, SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM: The thing about this, the real, real value of it, is it puts South Africa on the map. It's a huge television audience that follows the FIFA World Cup. And basically, it's going to give us marketing that's in every country that we would never be able to afford.

QUEST: The down-turn has hit the tourism industry hard. South Africa is no exception. FIFA initially predicted the tournament would bring 900,000 visitors. That figure is now halved.

MOYLE: We've only got the beginnings of the January statistics. Europe looks very slow. But I think we all expect the best because it's tough. The first six months of this year in travel, you know, all the predictions tell us how tough it's going to be. But for us, the critical thing is to be ready when the up-turn comes, and it will come, because, travel, when it comes, it comes back very quickly.

QUEST: A combination of World Cup and elephants will all ensure South Africa does well in the tourism business in 2010. The trick will be to see how the country performs in 2011 and beyond.

While the crisis persists, the rainbow nation is knocking on the doors of its neighbors.

MOYLE: We've spent a lot of time working on -- particularly on the air links, about trying to make it easier to travel. Because if we can increase the volume of travel in Southern Africa, we can bring down the price of it. The problem at the moment, it's a very, very elite activity. And I think, you know, part of what Seta (ph) is trying to do, as a political entity, is to try and help bulls (ph) -- the regional countries through a one-visa policy.

QUEST: If these plans go ahead, it's now just South Africa that will benefit from 2010.

This is Southern African. You're selling South Africa. There is a difference.

MOYLE: But if you put us together, we're bigger than the sum of our parts.

QUEST: Do you really believe that?

MOYLE: Absolutely.

QUEST: It's not a zero-sum game in your view?

MOYLE: Not at all, because, you know, if you're going to make a trip out to Southern Africa from a lot of parts of the world, it's a long way to go. And part of what we are saying is, if you put us together, we're an even bigger destination to visit.

QUEST: Regional tourism is one of the ways South Africa hopes to boost numbers. Another is by tapping into new markets.

MOYLE: It's a question about keeping your relationships with people, but where you can put extra focus in terms of going forward. We've put a lot more money now into India. We're putting a lot more money into China. And we also, in the run-up to 2010, are going to put a lot more money into South America.

QUEST: The run-up to the World Cup is not a time for complacency. South Africa knows soccer will keep the fans entertained. After the event, they'll have the sun, the sea and the safaris to look forward to.

Green Pointe Stadium here in Cape Town, one of the jewels in South Africa's World Cup crown. They tell me, whatever it looks like now, they will be ready to hand over the keys come December the 14th. And next year, of course, 60,000-plus fans will watch World Cup soccer.

The organizers really do hope that after the matches, all those fans go and visit the rest of South Africa, as Nkeplie Mabuse reports.


NKEPLIE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Don't bother with the beach of settle for a safari. There's another side to South Africa that's waiting to be discovered, a side that harks back to a more romantic era, the gold are of steam.

Elise (ph) is more than a half a century old, but her looks and charm have stood the test of time. She's one of about 35 steam trains still running on South Africa's rail nitch-work. And in just two hours, she can whisk you away from Johannesburg to the small, peaceful town of Magaliesberg, all for around $23 a ticket.

(on camera): For steam train enthusiasts, this is more than just a day trip away from the city. It's an opportunity to relook a by-gone era.

(voice-over): The tour operator of Reefsteamers is hoping visitors to the 2010 Football World Cup will venture off the beaten track and hope on these historic treasures for a different kind of travel experience. It's hoping to get fans hooked by offering extra services during the tournament.

LES SMITH, OWNER, REEFSTEAMERS: A lot of people on today's train, for example, have never even seen a steam locomotive in their life before. So it's a major experience for them and an eye-opener. And the steam's a funny thing. Once it gets into your blood, it's hard to get rid of. Once you come on one trip, you're going to come back for more.

MABUSE: Passengers can have a closer look at the rudimentary but fascinating technology that's at the heart of this old locomotive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a funny random fact that you could -- that you could say or think that I'm loose. From knowing nothing to, yeah, to learning a whole bunch of steam trains has been great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a technology, they're obsolete and dying. And it's fascinating to see that they're still around after a good 100 years.

MABUSE: Reefsteamers hopes that the World Cup will fuel a rail renaissance. And if their response is anything to go by, it may just become an international hit come 2010.


QUEST: Let us end where we began, outside the calabash, the national stadium, where in just over a year, the first match will take place.

And that is "CNN BUSINESS TRAVELLER" for this month. I'm Richard Quest, reporting from South Africa.

Wherever your travels may take you, I hope it's profitable. And may the best team win.