The 2010 Fifa World Cup™ will forever change the world's perception of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said at the opening of the Tourism Indaba trade show in Durban on Saturday.


"It is in our hands to make this the best World Cup ever," Zuma said, adding that South Africa stood to benefit from hosting the event World Cup for decades to come.


"The World Cup has changed the face of this country. Not only has it revatilised our economy, but it has given impetus to infrastructural development and job creation," Zuma said.


"It is estimated that over 3.6-million additional job opportunities will be created during the tournament," Zuma said, while the country's public transport network had been completely revitalised, with over US$10.9-billion having been spent on upgrading road infrastructure and the taxi recapitalisation programme.


"The highways between the OR Tambo International Airport and Pretoria, and Johannesburg and Pretoria, are among the many roads that have been improved. The bus rapid transit system has been rolled out in most cities. The Rea Vaya bus service between Johannesburg and Soweto now transports 20 000 people a day."

By 2020, Zuma said, more than 85 percent of any South African city's population will be living within a kilometre or closer to an integrated rapid public transport network feeder or corridor.


The World Cup had "placed us on the high road," Zuma said, while giving the country an unprecedented destination marketing opportunity.


"Much has been invested in the six years leading up to kick-off next month, and investments in the tourism industry, infrastructure, airports, information technology and stadiums leaves South Africa poised to maximise growth in numerous areas going forward.


"After the tournament South Africa will have more skilled people working in tourism and better tourism infrastructure to grow arrivals and foreign direct spend into the economy," Zuma said.


"The World Cup will also deliver about 350 000 more foreign visitors this year that will, in the medium to long term, result in greater repeat visits and word-of-mouth recommendations for the destination.


"South Africa's 10 World Cup-ready football stadiums give South Africa truly magnificent, capable and world-class sports venues. As important, they give the world a capable destination for global sporting and cultural events such as the world cups of other sporting codes, the Olympic Games and music concerts.

"Other World Cup legacy bequests include broadcasting and information technology infrastructure that puts the nation at the forefront of the digital age in terms of digital broadcasting, high-definition television and broadband internet accessibility," Zuma said.


Indaba delegates were treated to an opening ceremony that included performances by TKZee, by South Africa’' world-famous Drakensberg Boys Choir, and performances of the Diski Dance that has ignited the imagination of the world and the passion of the country for the 2010 football championship.


"South Africa is ready for the World Cup," Zuma said. "We look forward to welcoming the world, to hosting the world and to celebrating with the rest of the continent the first World Cup here in Africa."


Source: South African Tourism




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