CAPE TOWN - South Africa has enough accommodation to cater for an influx of tourists at next year's World Cup, although some individual venues might struggle to cope, the country's tourism minister said on Tuesday.
Football's world governing body FIFA has said accommodation, transport and security are concerns ahead of the month-long tournament starting on June 11, and hosted in Africa for the first time.
"South Africa has enough accommodation for 2010," Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the Minister of Tourism told a media briefing at the release of a national audit of accommodation for the event.
"We have available at least 202,000 rooms in the country... so we are confident that we will be able to deal with whatever for the duration of the World Cup," he said, adding that the figure meant there were more than 405,000 beds available.
An expected 450,000 foreign tourists are expected to attend the world's most watched sporting spectacle.
Van Schalkwyk said there were at least 7,520 accommodation establishments, such as hotels and bed-and-breakfast lodges, within a 50-km radius of stadiums in the ten host cities.
However, the audit revealed that some cities, notably Polokwane, Rustenburg, Mangaung and Nelspruit, would struggle to provide lodging for visitors.
"But there is really nothing to get excited about. In Japan, in Korea, in Germany and France, there has always been the case that an event of the magnitude of the FIFA World Cup cannot be accommodated in its entirety in every host city," Jaime Byrom, executive co-chairman of Match Event Services told journalists.
Match, which has contracted more than 48,000 rooms and is nearing its target of 55,000, has been retained by FIFA to help provide accommodation and tickets for fans.
Byrom said some 671,914 tickets had been sold up to last Saturday, with 360,565 tickets going to residents of South Africa and the rest to international customers.
Byrom said the latest sales presented a "total reversal" of previous sale rounds, in which South African fans did not apply as vigorously as foreigners, raising concerns about local interest in the tournament.
"It seems to me that South Africans have suddenly decided that they really have to be part of next year's World Cup and at the moment 70 percent of the applicants, after only three days, are South African residents," he said.
The third round of ticket sales opened after Friday's draw which determined team pools and opposition.
"I can tell you that right now we are in excess of 352,000 tickets applied for from all over the world (and valued at) approximately $18.6 million," he said.comments