Indaba 2010: ‘Late bookings will boost World Cup sales’

South African Tourism is expecting a late flurry of England fans to buy World Cup packages once the tournament begins should the team start doing well.

UK trade relations manager Matt Armstrong said about 97,000 match tickets had been sold in the UK, equating to about 25,000 Brits travelling to South Africa.

However, he believes a combination of reduced prices for air fares and accommodation, and growing excitement if England progress through the tournament, could mean as many as 10,000 additional match tickets are snapped up in the UK market.

“It really depends on how well England do,” said Armstrong.

“If they get through the group stages and hope begins to build among the fans then I think more will want to come out here.

“If the fans then realise tickets and prices have come down and England get to the finals, then we will have thousands coming out.”

He added flight prices had dropped considerably following a release of South African Airways seats to the general market, provided consumers seek out the best prices.

“If you want to fly out the day before a game, then you’re looking at paying about £1,500, but if you come out a couple of days before you can get a ticket for £800 which, although still expensive, is comparable with our high season prices,” Armstrong said.

He added that travellers would also benefit from reduced accommodation prices in South Africa, particularly if they opted for small and medium-sized businesses such as bed and breakfasts.

Several operators and airlines are now cutting prices in response to disappointing demand from supporters.

Thomas Cook has slashed its prices by up to 70% to persuade fans to attend the event. A five-night deal for England’s opening game on June 12 against the USA in Rustenburg is down from £2,499 to £1,199.

Fifa admits 750,000 match tickets remain unsold out of the 2.9 million available.

The World Cup runs from June 11 to July 11.


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