afrol News, 2 July - South Africa not only has seen 1 million foreign visitors in June. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says benefits from the rand 33 billion (euro 3.4 billion) World Cup investments will be lasting.
Finance Minister Gordhan at a FIFA press conference in Johannesburg today was confident that the large investments into the World Cup would create lasting economic and social benefits for South Africa long after the visitors have left the country.
The South African government spent more than rand 33 billion over a period of four years on infrastructure and preparation for the World Cup. Close to rand 12 billion (euro 1.24 billion) was spent on stadium infrastructure with another rand 11 billion (euro 1.13 billion) spent on transport and rand 1.5 billion (euro 155 million) spent on event broadcast and telecommunications.
Mr Gordhan said current projections were that the tournament would add 0.4 percent to South Africa's real GDP. "What this actually means is that about rand 38 billion will be added to the GDP as a result of the World Cup."
The Finance Minister said that, while some benefits from hosting the event were not clear cut for now, South Africa had prospects of fast growth as a result of the infrastructure that had been built for the World Cup. An estimated 130,000 jobs, most of them leading up to the World Cup, were created in the construction, roads and transport and hospitality industry.
"I know there are questions that are being asked but I am sure you will all realise long after the World Cup, the social and economic benefits that this tournament has been able to provide for our country," Mr Gordhan explained.
"Today, we have earned the reputation of a country that can actually deliver and that is good for future growth. This infrastructure we have built is not a short term infrastructure that you build today and destroy tomorrow. We have increased the productivity of the people of South Africa and all of that is part of our development and long term planning for our country," said Mr Gordhan.
But for some sectors, the World Cup boost could nevertheless be short-lived. Especially those in the hospitality industry, will struggle to sustain the high profits generated by the World Cup, although there is an optimism regarding permanently higher tourist arrival numbers for South Africa.
South Africa indeed experienced almost 1 million foreign nationals visiting the country during June. According to the South African Home Affairs Department, a total of 944,535 foreign travellers entered the country from 1 to 29 June.
This was an increase of 24 percent from the same period the previous year, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Malusi Gigaba told the press in Pretoria yesterday.
International visitors came mainly from neighbouring countries Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana, followed by the USA, UK, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, the Netherlands, Zambia and Malawi, according to Mr Gigaba.
South African economist Iraj Abedian says it was true that "business will hate to see the World Cup go - especially the hospitality industry where production is expected to drop again. But, I believe with little creativity and coordination we can actually turn this into future opportunities," he added.
"For instance the success of this event will ensure that most of the people who have visited our country will surely come back, so the infrastructure we have spent on hotels is not a waste at all ... history has taught us that hosting events of this magnitude can boost the country's credibility," the economist said.
The large amount of South African tax money invested in the event could also be justified with the argument that the event had helped to bring an end to the "Afro-pessimism" that had dominated foreign media for years, Finance Minister Gordhan added.
South African President Jacob Zuma, who yesterday met FIFA President Sepp Blatter, agreed that an end to "Afro-pessimism" would mean a major asset for the country and region. South Africa had shown the world it can organise such a big event in a perfect way, he said.
After South Africa was granted the World Cup, many people were saying it would be "'impossible, they will not be able to organise it' and they talked about a 'Plan B', President Zuma said.
"When we completed the stadiums, people started to talk about security and other issues, but we have had a great tournament. And today, a lot of people who are honest enough have come out and said 'we confess, we were wrong about your country'," Mr Zuma said.
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