Cape Town tourism scores with the World Cup

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As the World Cup reaches its halfway point, Cape Town Tourism has issued a positive report on the tourism impact of the tournament, describing the event as "an essential and long-overdue turning point in the world's perception of Africa."

The city's tourism authorities point to positive media coverage of the matches and the destination, and the reversal in tone of many media commentators, as evidence that the World Cup has been the greatest marketing success story it has ever had.

International arrivals to Cape Town have risen by 44 percent compared to June 2009, while hotels have been experiencing occupancy of over 70 percent during the tournament, up 20 percent from last year, according to official figures.

Cape Town Tourism projects that if just 0.5 percent of the three billion people estimated to be watching the World Cup choose to visit the city in the next five years, international arrivals will soar by a further three million visitors every year.

It now intends to use the positive media coverage and rich imagery to promote the city with the aim of doubling the much-needed economic impact of tourism by 2020.

“Our focus has never been on the short-term benefits of hosting this event, but rather on maximizing the long-term benefits and changing the opinion the world has of us, converting soccer fans into fans of Cape Town," explained Cape Town Tourism's Mariette du Toit-Helmbold.

A spokesperson for Cape Town International Airport said that because the World Cup has brought thousands of visitors in during winter, international carriers may soon end seasonal schedules to the town, instead choosing to fly year-round.

Last week, Visa reported that the World Cup had provided a 345 million rand (€36.95 million) boost to South Africa using its cards, a surge in spending of some 54 percent.

Consultancy Grant Thornton predicts that South Africa will earn a total of 8.8 billion rand (€942.6 million) during the World Cup.