afrol News, 6 July - According to government, the positive global media coverage South Africa received during the World Cup had exceeded all expectations and could benefit the tourism industry long after the event ends.
According to the South African Department of Tourism, the World Cup had showcased the country to an accumulated international audience of 32 billion viewers and introduced South Africa to non-traditional markets in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia.
"We were always confident that our country and our people would show the world what a superb destination we offer, and yet the overwhelming positive international coverage has surpassed even our most optimistic expectations," Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said. "The goodwill that has been unlocked cannot be measured in monetary terms," he added.
In the years leading up to the tournament, the government agency South African Tourism (SAT) spent about rand 770 million (US$ 100 million) on marketing and advertising the country to a global audience and got the message across to 1.9 billion people every month.
"This investment in marketing and advertising by SAT is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the positive reporting on South Africa as a country and a tourism destination that has flooded global media channels since the kick off of the Word Cup on 11 June," Minister van Schalkwyk said.
South Africa's tourism sector is now gearing up to capitalise on the success of the world cup and the exposure the country received.
Mr Van Schalkwyk said the World Cup was not an end in itself for the tourism sector but a milestone in the industry's growth trajectory. The World Cup would lay a solid basis for a new decade of growth and development, he added.
"Our tourism industry is geared to make the most of the opportunities created by the World Cup. The championship will be recorded in the history books as one of the best showcases ever for South Africa and Africa and I am convinced it has opened up the door to our destination to scores of new visitors," Van Schalkwyk said.
According to the department the latest figures show that more than 1.9 million tourists arrived in the country from January to March 2010 - an increase from the 1.6 million during the same period in 2009.
"South Africa's tourism arrivals for the first quarter of the year exceeded our expectations, and we are confident the World Cup will help us achieve our ambitious growth targets for 2010," the Minister said.
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