2010 World Cup made less money than expected

JOHANNESBURG - The 2010 World Cup helped to rebrand South Africa but brought in far less money than anticipated, officials said on Monday.

Tourism during the June-July tournament brought in some 3.6 billion rand ($519.6 million), far less than the government had initially expected, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told reporters.

The global economic downturn contributed to fewer overseas spectators attending the games, making it difficult for President Jacob Zuma's government to recoup the nearly 40 billion rand it had spent on infrastructure.

"There are a number of discussions that are taking place on options on how the stadia can be used," Van Schalkwyk said.

The government was exploring options including the South Korean example, where housing developments and shopping centres were incorporated into stadiums.

Some municipalities have called on the national government to make funds available for maintenance, which they say they cannot afford.

The month-long tournament, held in Africa for the first time, helped to improve global perceptions of the continent's biggest economy, which had been known primarily for high levels of crime, Van Schalkwyk said.

"Almost 90 percent of tourists said they would consider visiting South Africa again, while 96 percent said they would recommend the country to their friends."

More than 300,000 people visited the country for the tournament, with 38 percent coming from within Africa, followed by 24 percent from Europe, 23 percent from Central and South America and 11 percent from North America.