Best way to spend R1 billion to bring tourists to South Africa

Adrian Saville

Instead of using nearly R1 billion to sponsor English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, the money can be better spent to give away flights to South Africa.

This is the view of Adrian Saville, a professor in economics, finance, and strategy at the Gordon Institute of Business Science and an investment specialist at Genera Capital.

There has been a strong backlash against marketing agency SA Tourism’s plan to sign a Tottenham Hotspur sponsorship deal worth R912 million.

The proposed three-year deal worth £42.5 million will start with the 2023/24 English Premier League season and end with the 2026/27 season.

In exchange for the sponsorship, SA Tourism would receive kit branding, interview backdrop branding, match-day advertising, and partnership announcements.

The sponsorship will also include training camps in South Africa and free access to tickets and stadium hospitality.

The planned sponsorship drew sharp criticism from citizens, political parties, and businesspeople who said it was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Billionaire businessman Johann Rupert said the money could be better spent on “proper safety and security for everyone if you want more tourists to come” to South Africa.

The DA also opposed the deal, calling it a slap in the face of every South African whose hard-earned tax will be used to sponsor a first-world football team.

However, acting Tourism SA CEO Themba Khumalo has defended the proposed deal, saying money invested in tourism is not the same money required for energy.

Tourism SA acting CEO Themba Khumalo

Sponsor flights to South Africa

Adrian Saville said instead of investing R1-billion in a soccer club sponsorship, South Africa should give away air tickets to the country.

“Buying in bulk and paying $750 for a return ticket to London would bring almost 80,000 tourists to South Africa,” he said.

He said these tickets should be given away at places that will entrench goodwill and translate into foreign currency spent, bed nights, and word of mouth on the back of already-delighted tourists.

Saville’s strategy is in line with Hong Kong’s plan, unveiled on Thursday, to hand out 500,000 air tickets to bring in visitors to the city as part of a global publicity campaign.

The city’s leader John Lee announced the giveaway at the launch of the Hello Hong Kong campaign, saying it was “probably the world’s biggest welcome ever.”

Lee highlighted a number of events coming up, including the Rugby Sevens and city marathon, in a speech given in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

The government is seeking to revive the economy and repair Hong Kong’s global image, which was damaged by violent protests, tough security laws, and self-imposed isolation during the pandemic.


Top JSE indices