Wednesday, January 7, 2009

South Africa Not Only Country Ready for 2010

I've been here and there on Road to 2010 for too long.
Time to step it up ...

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is fast approaching. And while South Africa is keen to reap financial benefits from staging the world's biggest sporting event, it's not the only country in Africa that feels this way.

Countries like Namibia, Botswana and Zambia have embarked on campaigns to persuade teams and their fans to visit them before the World Cup begins.

Even Kenya, which is a four hour flight away from Johannesburg, is hoping for some of the action.

As South Africa continues its preparations to host football's showpiece event, a similar - if less frantic - process is taking place across its borders.

An example involves tourism officials from Namibia, who were highly visible at a recent football convention held in Johannesburg.

Namibian officials are hoping that football supporters heading to South Africa in 2010 will also spend time, and money, in their country.

Shareen Thude from the Namibian Tourist Board wants the whole region to benefit.

"I personally do not see Namibia as competing with Zambia or Botswana or any country in the region. Southern Africa as a brand is very strong it's a very very powerful brand," she said.

"I think there's a lot of potential for all of us. Each country will sell on our own particular strength and our own particular niche and present our own unique positioning," she added.

Namibia and other southern African countries are concentrating their efforts on boosting tourism.

In contrast Kenya wants to attract one of the qualified teams to base itself in Nairobi prior to the tournament.

Sam Mwai has the task of convincing a leading football nation to get its players to stop off in Kenya on their way to the World Cup.

"We do have two world class facilities in Nairobi. Nairobi altitude is similar to Johannesburg and a few other cities in South Africa," he said.

"We're offering those teams a chance to fly out of Europe, South America, Asia, acclimatise in Nairobi for a few days, do a bit of training, sight seeing, and then fly down for the World Cup, it's only a four hour flight from Nairobi to Joburg," he added.

He said such an eventuality would be wonderful for a football mad nation such as Kenya.

It is an ambitious target, but countries like Kenya and those closer to South Africa are hopeful the 2010 legacy will extend beyond the world cup hosts.

MY POV: This is exactly how the World Cup can reap benefits for the entire continent. As has been stated before, this isn't just South Africa's World Cup. This is Africa's World Cup ... it's great to see the ingenuity of Namibia and Kenya's tourism boards as they try to garner visitors to their great countries.

I really believe they're doing a great job getting people to at least recognize what they have to offer ahead of the 2010 Cup ...