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Fans start boosting firms' coffers

Foreign currency and local enthusiasm for the FIFA Soccer World Cup have significantly contributed to the bottom line of some businesses in the retailing and hospitality industries in the first week of the tournament.

This is despite fears that the global recession would force consumers to be cautious about their spending habits during the event.

Foreign visitors

There were also concerns that a downward revised figure of foreign tourists visiting SA during the soccer event would have an effect on the profits of companies that have targeted this market.

Initially, an ambitious figure of 450000 foreign fans was punted by FIFA to visit SA during the month-long tournament.

However, the Department of Tourism had last month suggested that about 300000 foreign visitors during the games would be a much more realistic figure.

Sales increase

The Massmart group said that its fast-moving consumer goods stores, such as Game and Makro, were in line to score huge profits as a direct result of the tournament.

There has been an increase of between 9% and 12% in the sale of snack products, an increase of 7% in cold beverages, and the group anticipated selling 20000 football branded folding chairs, 2000 winter blankets and 2000 seat pads.

Massmart singled out beer as the alcoholic beverage that was being bought most by consumers, ahead of spirits and wines.

Hospitality sector

Southern Sun MD Graham Wood was ecstatic mood about the profit the company's chain of hotels was making during this period.

This is despite all hotel rooms not being booked to capacity.

"It is not what we expected ... but our hotels are very busy in host cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, and we were fully booked during the opening ceremony," Wood said. It was mostly foreign tourists such as FIFA officials and the media that had been the major customers as local tourists preferred to use alternative accommodation, he said.

Durban's Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched a Durban Accommodation campaign to lure local tourists, punting the city's warmer weather.

Airlines

Comair CE Gidon Novick said that the local and regional airliner had seen "an excellent take-up from local travellers" who had been flying on busy routes to and from Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. The airline still had about 500000 seats available for the duration of the tournament.

Airports Company SA (Acsa) spokesman Solomon Makgale said the airports that were in the host cities had experienced a huge increase in the volume of passengers. He said that OR Tambo International, Africa's busiest airport, was seeing 4000 passengers an hour moving through its terminals.

In Cape Town, between 25000 and 30000 passengers a day were using the airport as an arrival and departure terminal.

Overall, about 100000 passengers a day countrywide were passing through the airports, according to Acsa's calculations, Mr Makgale said.

Other companies contacted yesterday by Business Day said that it was too early to provide accurate figures of sales at this stage of the tournament.

Source: Business Day



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