It may be the planet's biggest sporting tournament, but days before the World Cup kicks off on Friday, interest has yet to reach fever pitch. Tour operators and airlines still have availability for fans wanting to make last-minute getaways to watch live action – including the final – in South Africa.
Travel agent Trailfinders has "limited seat availability" for flights to South Africa, starting from £860, during June. A spokeswoman said flights were £600 when first available to book 11 months ago, but that it was usual for costs to increase closer to the travel date. BA, preparing to fly nearly 70,000 passengers to South Africa during the tournament, also has availability, and about 20 per cent of South African Airways seats from the UK are up for grabs.
While members of England's official supporters' club have snapped up the FA's tournament allocation of just over 24,000 tickets, there are still seats on offer via Fifa's website. Yesterday there were some tickets left for England's third Group C match against Slovenia on 23 June in Port Elizabeth, and the third place play-off on 10 July, also in Port Elizabeth, had empty seats.
"The demand for match tickets is down on previous World Cups," said David Pearson, managing director of tour operator BAC Sport. "I don't recall any recent World Cup where there are still tickets available for the final so close to the start of a tournament."
Mr Pearson claimed the recession, security scares, the climate (it is currently winter in South Africa) and improved television and internet coverage may have affected sales.
A spokeswoman for the travel association Abta predicted a late surge as fans realised prices were reasonable. "You were always going to get fewer people to a long-haul World Cup than somewhere like Germany [hosts in 2006]," she said.Reuse content