FIFA 2010 and tourism: Evidence from previous sports events

Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 01/2010
 
Publication date: 2010
 
Author(s):
Johan Fourie (Stellenbosch University)
 
Summary:

With the FIFA 2010 World Cup only 20 days from kick-off, the excitement in South Africa is tangible. Not only will South Africans be able to experience the largest mega-event on the planet live, but there is wide agreement that such events have significant economic spin-offs, particularly increasing tourist arrivals, that will help create jobs and income. And while the expectations of tourist arrivals have been scaled downwards since the first estimates, an increase of roughly 250 000 soccer fans is still predicted at the minimum, in addition to the significant long-term benefits derived from marketing Brand South Africa during the event. Are these numbers accurate? Do mega-events really increase tourist numbers? One way to answer this question is to look at the hosting of past events. Did they have a positive and identifiable impact on the number of tourists visiting South Africa? Recent academic studies suggest that we should not assume that this is the case, since the increased number of people visiting the country to attend a sports event can be offset by a decrease in the number of non-event tourists who avoid visiting the country at the time of the tournament to escape higher prices and busy town centers (known as “crowding out” or displacement). This research brief looks at recent South African evidence of hosting mega-events, suggesting that in some cases the hosting of mega-events did indeed lead to increased numbers of international visitors, but that in other cases they had no significant impact.

 
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