Now it’s showtime for SA

The lights have dimmed in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium and now the spotlight is swinging south to focus on South Africa as it prepares for the world’s next huge sporting extravaganza – the Soccer World Cup in 2010.

“This event, less than two years away, will draw an estimated one million or more visitors to this country,” says Tjaart van der Walt, CEO of the RealNet property group, “and will have a major effect on our real estate market.

“To start with, there will be major opportunities for local accommodation establishments such as guesthouses and B&Bs to put themselves on the world map and we expect to see increased demand for suitable properties in short order.

“Match Event Services, which is co-ordinating tourist accommodation for the World Cup, lists all approved establishments on its international websites, and to date it has only signed up about half of the 55 000 rooms it needs.”

He says the local property industry also stands to benefit from both the wide exposure of the country as well as the physical presence of sports tourists in 2010.

“If the experience of China is anything to go by, we can expect the Soccer World Cup to act as a showcase for SA, and result in much heightened business and investor interest in this country which would ultimately translate into higher demand for residential and investment properties.

“In this regard, a surge in interest among buyers from the African continent is particularly likely. We are already seeing signs of increased investment among these buyers who view South Africa as a ‘shopping’ destination. Second homes along our northern borders are already popular but a migration further south to cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town is likely thanks to the exposure that the tournament will afford the country as a whole.”

“The luxury property sector will no doubt also receive a boost as wealthy people around the world are given a view of some of the outstanding settings SA has to offer for trophy homes – from our beautiful coastline to the winelands and the African bush.”

Meanwhile, Van der Walt says, local homeowners will benefit enormously from the billions of rands being spent on new infrastructure and on security. “The government is set to spend more than R400bn not only on the new sports facilities but on airport, rail and road upgrades for the World Cup that will make SA a better place to live long after the event is over.

“And the hundreds of new police officers now being recruited and trained for 2010 will no doubt make a significant dent in our crime figures and help to boost the business and consumer confidence that is such a vital element of a thriving property market.”

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