Captain Siya Kolisi and President Cyril Ramaphosa raise the Webb Ellis Cup trophy after the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Picture: JUAN JOSE GASPARINI/GALLO IMAGES
Captain Siya Kolisi and President Cyril Ramaphosa raise the Webb Ellis Cup trophy after the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Picture: JUAN JOSE GASPARINI/GALLO IMAGES

The SA Rugby Union is to be congratulated for securing both the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2022, the first time the latter tournament will be held in Africa.

These sporting events will help boost tourism to the country, and with a firm eye on economic impact, they are exactly what is needed to build on the momentum the 2019 Rugby World Cup victory has created. No amount of marketing spend can buy this sort of positivity.

The economic impact assessment conducted by our specialist tourism unit reported that the two-day 2017 Rugby Sevens event attracted about 10,000 foreign visitors to SA, amounting to R110m in direct spend. Since the longer three-day event includes both a men’s and women’s competition at the 55,000-capacity Cape Town Stadium in 2022, we expect it will attract even more foreign visitors. And as it will be held in September-October, the Mother City can look forward to an early bumper season.

To add to this, the British and Irish Lions tour in 2021 is a five-week event, with matches taking place across the country. This holds the potential for an increase in tourist numbers and an increase in spend. There is no doubt that rugby unites this nation, and while the iron is hot after our victory in Japan, we believe Saru should bid for the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Hosting a World Cup changes perceptions and builds reputations, while attracting millions of viewers across the globe and on social media. With the latest tourism figures released by Stats SA reflecting a significant drop in overseas visitors for the year to date, we need to do a lot more of the right things to get us over the tryline.

Mark Stewart and Mark Willimott
BDO SA

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