A brand-new Cape Town
Friday 9, July 2010
As Cape Town and South Africa are playing an increasingly bigger role in hosting major events, it is important to assess the socio-economic impact of these mega-sporting events.
To do just this, five City departments have been working round the clock with the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC) using the National Sport Recreation Department’s Sport Event Impact Model.
During the tournament, the team of more than 100 CHEC field workers and data capturers completed around 3 000 visitor surveys, captured the data, and shared some of their preliminary observations with the Final Whistle team.
Mega events offer an unprecedented opportunity for ‘nation branding’, says Brendon Knott, doctoral student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). For example, before Germany hosted World Cup in 2006, people perceived Germans as boring, humourless, serious and hardworking. After the tournament, a survey revealed that perceptions had changed, and that Germans are now perceived as carefree, fun-loving, innovative and welcoming people…
According to Knott’s research, South Africa’s national brand has been apartheid, wildlife, ‘Brand Africa’ (where South Africa is indistinguishable from the rest of the continent), war, famine and violence – clearly not the kind of competitive advantage our country and city need in a world where countries compete for attention and respect, the trust of investors, tourists, donors, immigrants and consumers.
Perceptions don’t change easily, says Knott. They need a significant event - and the World Cup has presented exactly such an opportunity. It’s the marketing opportunity of a lifetime, and by the time the final whistle blows on 11 July, more than 26 billion people (collectively) will have viewed footage of the tournament, and more than 400 000 people will have visited South Africa.
Although the researchers’ data has not yet been completed or analysed, already preliminary observations suggest that perceptions are shifting… Many visitors have told researchers that they had no idea that South Africa was so beautiful, and that travelling in our country and interacting with locals has given them a taste of reality far removed from that portrayed in the international tabloids. Adjectives such as ‘safe, friendly, welcoming, clean, world-class, diverse and integrated’ have been popping up all over the questionnaires, says Knott. “We are so aware of our divisions here that sometimes it takes a visitor to show us quite how integrated we are…”
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