Make hay on matchday

2010-06-19 00:00

SHOPS, restaurants and pubs in and around Durban have received a major spending boost on Fifa World Cup match days, with an estimated R25 million being spent by foreign tourists alone on each match day.

It is understood that beer sales have skyrocketed on certain days, and city residents and “out-of-towners” alike are leaving fan parks, the stadium, pubs and restaurants with lighter wallets on these days.

Tourism KwaZulu-Natal’s general manager for Tourism Information Services, James Seymour, told Weekend Witness that the average foreign tourist spends about R1 000 on a match day.

However, he noted that foreign visitors do not spend much time in the city, limiting their stay to two days.

The chairperson of the Durban Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s (DCCI) Tourism Committee, Mike Jackson, told Weekend Witness that visitors have been pleasantly surprised by their stay in Durban.

“They are so surprised at the feeling of safety. They all say how they had been misled by foreign media reports and here they can walk around day and night and they feel so safe,” Jackson said.

He added that the consumption of beer in the city appears to have outstripped all other items in terms of sales.

Jackson said it is estimated that 40 000 beers were sold at the Moses Mabhida Stadium during Sunday’s Germany versus Australia match — at R30 each.

The owner of Gifts and Collectibles at uShaka Marine World, Keith Betts, told Weekend Witness that uniquely South African souvenirs remain very popular with foreign visitors.

Betts said smaller and lighter items like key-rings, fridge magnets and clothing are popular.

He added that many foreigners who are staying with relatives and friends in Pietermaritzburg visit Durban regularly.

Jackson, who is also the general manager of the Southern Sun Elangeni along Durban’s beach-front, noted that the challenge for establishments has been the release of rooms by booking company Match, the professional services company selected by Fifa to provide accommodation.

“Match is continually giving rooms back to Durban hotels every few days, and three days before the matches they release more rooms without penalty, making it impossible for Durban hotels to re-sell these rooms … The positives have been that we [staff at hotels] are all impressing the international guests with our good service and our friendliness. They are all saying how they did not expect the service in Durban to be this good,” Jackson said.

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