The 85 000 spending power #FillUpFNB

In a journal article titled, Event Tourism Analysis and the State of the Art, it is noted that ‘’ the organisation of tourist events has a positive impact on a place or a region by generating economic profit based on the income from the sale of products and services of different activities connected to the event, by increasing the tourist turnover which improves the quality of restaurants and infrastructure’’.  Tourism represents the consumption economy located with the services sector of the economy, which is a growth sector.

The consumption economy of tourism has replaced the production economy of mining, agriculture and manufacturing. Statistics do not lie, as tourism is the ‘’new gold’’ as it attracts more foreign exchange than gold mining. The South Africa economy has deep structural challenges, and has a growth rate projection of 1%, too low economic growth to address the poverty that characterises life for the majority of South Africa. The reality of declining commodity prices has been the major cause of poverty linked to mining shedding jobs. South Africa has just escaped a rating agency downgrade to junk status, a major worry for the South African government.

The FIFA World Cup was the premier event that was hosted in South Africa, and the first on African soil. The 2010 FIFA World Cup was able to put South Africa on the international stage as an emerging super power. Images of South Africa were broadcast to all corners of the Earth, and all global citizens know South Africa because of Nelson Mandela, apartheid and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Events that are of a smaller scale are usually more sustainable, as they use existing infrastructure. The City of eThekwini that will host the 2022 Commonwealth Game was able to indicate in its bid documents that it will use existing infrastructure to host the sporting event.  Brazil knows the huge spending from the public purse as it hosted the last FIFA World Cup and will host the Olympic Games in 2016, which are overshadowed by the cancellations by many athletes because of the Zika virus. Brazil will have fewer tourists because of these challenges, limiting the developmental potential of tourism. The majority of municipalities in South Africa have adopted tourism within their economic policies, as they seek to jump on the tourism bandwagon to benefit from the positive economic impacts of tourism.

On the 03 August 2016, South Africa will host local government elections and these will possibly be one of the most hotly contested local government elections since 1994, the end of apartheid. The oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress hosted a provincial rally for the local government election on the 04 June 2016, at the FNB Stadium. The FNB Stadium, created in the image of a calabash was the symbol of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and can be regarded as the national stadium just like Wembley is the English national stadium. The ANC in Gauteng led a province wide mass mobilisation of people that are supporters of the ANC to attend the ANC Provincial Rally. Filling the FNB Stadium, was always going to be an ambitious projects considering that the Soweto Derby hosted at the FNB Stadium between the mighty Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, would only be full in the second half. The ANC was able to account that more than 85 000 ANC evangelists descended through the gates of the 94 000 capacity stadium. The economic benefit of hosting such an event has escaped media gaze and academic attention.  Each of the attendees to the event, were economic participants as they would spend money.

Can you imagine if they each spend R10, and this would equate to R 850 000. The expenditure would be much greater when you consider more money was spend in food and beverage outlets, buying ANC regalia, and for transport. This means the multiplier effects runs into millions of rands. The thousands of ANC evangelists arrived by buses, trains, cars, and some even walked. Uber the Internet-ride sharing application, benefited from increased demand during the weekend in Soweto, one of the busiest routes for rides in South Africa. The transport providers from all corners of Gauteng benefited from the bookings, and this ensured that many jobs were sustained. It was Soweto Derby atmosphere, and the tourism value chain from flights, accommodation, food providers, benefited. The night time economy of Soweto specifically and generally Johannesburg benefited as the night time economy sustains thousands of jobs in entertainment, and food and beverage outlets. The Stadium Management benefited as they got rental payment from the ANC for the stadium, considering the high maintenance costs for the FIFA World Cup stadiums.

The event occurred when the Premier Soccer League is in recess, which means the hundreds of security marshals were able to benefit from the once-off payment. The Gauteng provincial government has a township economy revatilisation programme to ensure that the ‘’second economy’’ in the townships is strengthened to ensure that it sustains jobs and addressed the structural challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Soweto is the largest township in South Africa, and the local businesses from petrol stations, to bars, and clothing shops benefited from the tourism dividend from the ANC. Better collaboration is required to ensure that the tourism economy benefit a destination, such as having a Soweto Mobile Application that indicated the ‘101 things to do in Soweto’’.

With the plethora of cars and buses, pamphlets of the Soweto tourism products could have ensured that some of the day visitors spend an hour at a food and beverage or see an attraction in Soweto. Some might have taken home the pamphlets and be better informed about tourism experiences that exist in Soweto. Tourism is an industry that is information driven, and marketing must be ruthlessly pursued to ensure that tourism consumption becomes institutionalised. The journalist gaze misses such moments because of lack of a deep understanding of this dynamic and a cross cutting industry. The entire business community of Soweto benefited from the ANC Gauteng Local Government Election launch, and this is not junk.

Mr. Unathi Sonwabile Henama teaches tourism at the Tshwane University of Technology, and writes in his personal capacity.

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