Jan 7, 2009

Sport - Football;Africans geared for World Cup bonanza

Alex Capstick
BBC Sports News reporter

South Africa might be staging the 2010 football World Cup but a host of neighbouring countries have ideas of their own to cash in on the tournament.

Countries like Namibia, Botswana and Zambia have embarked on a campaign to persuade teams and their fans to visit them before the World Cup begins.

Even Kenya, which is a four hour flight away from Johannesburg, is hoping for a slice of the action.

As South Africa continues its preparations to host football's showpiece event, a similar - if less frantic - process is taking place across its borders.

The World Cup is being seen as an opportunity for all of Africa, especially those countries in the southern end of the continent.

Tourism officials from Namibia were highly visible at a recent football convention held in Johannesburg.

They are hoping that football supporters heading to South Africa in 2010 will also spend time, and money, in their country.

It requires a hard sell - they accept that many of the visitors will not know what they have to offer.

Tourism potential

Shareen Thude from the Namibian Tourist Board wants the whole region to benefit.

"I personally do not see Namibia as competing with Zambia or Botswana or any country in the region. Southern Africa as a brand is very strong it's a very very powerful brand," she said.

"I think there's a lot of potential for all of us. Each country will sell on our own particular strength and our own particular niche and present our own unique positioning," she added.

Namibia and other southern African countries are concentrating their efforts on boosting tourism.

In contrast Kenya wants to attract one of the qualified teams to base itself in Nairobi prior to the tournament.

Sam Mwai has the task of convincing a leading football nation to get its players to stop off in Kenya on their way to the World Cup.

"We do have two world class facilities in Nairobi. Nairobi altitude is similar to Johannesburg and a few other cities in South Africa," he said.

"We're offering those teams a chance to fly out of Europe, South America, Asia, acclimatise in Nairobi for a few days, do a bit of training, sight seeing, and then fly down for the world cup, it's only a four hour flight from Nairobi to Joburg," he added.

He said such an eventuality would be wonderful for a football mad nation such as Kenya.

It is an ambitious target, but countries like Kenya and those closer to South Africa are hopeful the 2010 legacy will extend beyond the world cup hosts.

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