Durban At Its Best – Getting Ready For The World Cup
From 18 May till 21 May I attended a conference in Durban, South Africa and could not help, but noticing, how excited everybody already was in the prospect of the upcoming Soccer World Cup.
People were busy planting flowers in front of the hotels, finishing sidewalks and roads and counting the days for the world cup. Already at the airport, visitors are welcomed with huge banners and advertisements. Signs inform visitors that they are not allowed to use the Vuvuzelas (ca 1 m long stadium horns which can create a lot of noise) on the plane. In short, there seems to be no space left that does not refer to the World Cup. Restaurant and bar owners expect tourists to arrive anytime now and can’t wait to show them their hospitality. A comprehensive website informs tourists that Durban is the “warmest place to be for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™” and gives tips about the regions and on what you should be sure to see during your stay in Durban.
And even if you missed to look at the impressive Moses Mabhida Stadium especially build for this occasion on your way from the airport to the city center, you can find a smaller version made of sand at the beach – where skilful sand artist have built all World Cup Stadiums from South Africa at the wonderful sand beach of Durban.
Expectations are high. Everybody we talked to during our stay in Durban counted on vast numbers of tourists to come and visit not only for the World Cup, but also to take some days to visit South Africa. FIFA president Joseph Blatter pointed out that the preparations have created a lot of jobs and that the programme “Football for Hope” will ensure a sustainable effect. Also the media attention will give South Africa the opportunity to show how capable they are. Moreover the competition has brought South Africa an improvement in infrastructure. Will all this investment pay off?
In spite of ongoing discussions about unsold VIP tickets and the overall state of tickets sold, FIFA General Secretary Jêrome Valcke assured that 97 percent of all Word Cup tickets are sold, which is more than at the World Cup in Germany in 2006.
Soon we will know for sure. If everybody is as warmly welcomed as we were during our stay in Durban it will become an unforgettable experience!
Maike Schansker (Schansker[at]vie.unu.edu)