With hordes of fans coming to the World Cup, there’s room to cash in
Official research showed that on some nights, Gauteng would be 65000 beds short, while there would be a shortfall of about 15000 beds in Port Elizabeth, 14000 in Bloemfontein, 13000 in Nelspruit, and 5000 in Rustenburg
Confed Cup Special Report
Thousands of foreign visitors to the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa could find themselves without a bed. With less than 360 days to kick-off, just 40000 out of a target of more than 55000 rooms have been secured.
The shortage of available beds in most match-playing centres has forced Fifa, the international football governing body, to drop its insistence that all World Cup accommodation carry official SA Tourism grading.
Now owners of ordinary, non-graded houses and flats across the country, from Bellville to Knysna and Nelspruit to Um-hlanga, look set to pocket between R1000 and R25000 a day letting their properties to overseas guests.
Although there are more than 92000 beds available in graded accommodation, from self-catering units to hotel chains, many have refused to sign over their properties to Fifa’s accommodation contractors, Match Event Services. They claim the contract requirements are too stringent.
Recently, Jaime Byrom, executive chairman of Match Event Services, acknowledged that the shortage of accommodation had forced Fifa “to think outside the box”.
The mad scramble to source more beds for the tournament, tipped to attract between 400000 and 800000 foreigners, has already seen:
Match sourcing about 6000 rooms as far afield as Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia and Mauritius;
Match signing up more than 5000 rooms in non-graded guesthouses, university hostels, timeshare accommodation and private game lodges; and
Preparations for international cruise liners to anchor off the coastline and serve as floating hotels.
“It’s all part of the accommodation solution for 2010,” Byrom said recently.
Yesterday, Match Event Services spokesman Delia Fischer said they had signed up about 40000 rooms.
One of the country’s biggest estate agencies has jumped on board to help tackle the accommodation crisis.
A joint venture between a local property group and soccer legend Gary Bailey is signing up scores of homeowners across South Africa.
Samuel Seeff said the venture had “drawn a favourable response” from the 2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) and Match.
“We have approached people within the LOC and Match and also checked with lawyers protecting Fifa’s rights. Everyone is comfortable and has encouraged what we are doing.
“They understand the problem we are trying to address and appreciate the efforts we are making,” he said.
Bailey said SA Tourism statistics showed that on some nights Gauteng would be 65000 beds short, while there would be a shortfall of about 15000 beds in Port Elizabeth, 14000 in Bloemfontein, 13000 in Nelspruit and 5000 in Rustenberg.
In Durban and Cape Town, said Bailey, a minimum of about 21900 and 32900 beds were needed per match respectively.
A spokesman for the Department of Tourism, Ronel Bester, said: “We are confident that homeowners and entrepreneurs will open their homes to visitors and seize the associated business opportunities.”
A homeowner in Cape Town’s Camps Bay has concluded a R13000 a day deal for her six-bedroom home during the tournament. Brenda Liltved said an Irish tourist had recently walked into Seeff’s offices in Camps Bay asking for a large home to rent for the World Cup.
“He was brought to my home … and the minute he walked in, he told the agent that he didn’t want to see anything else. He didn’t even negotiate the asking daily rental and just signed for the house,” she said.
Liltved said rentals of between R13000 and R20000 a day were unheard of during the winter months on Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard, which includes Camps Bay, Bantry Bay, Clifton, Fresnaye and Llandudno. Liltved plans to take her family on an overseas holiday, “somewhere warm”, during the World Cup.
Ian Slot said some homeowners were throwing in a full butler service and their luxury 4x4s and sedans.
Bailey estimates that accommodation could generate about R1-billion during the World Cup.
source: Sunday Times
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