Thousands of beds needed

Match, Fifa's accommodation and ticketing agency, has urged owners of guesthouses, bed and breakfast facilities as well as lodges to register with them to benefit financially during the 2010 World Cup.

Match, Fifa's accommodation and ticketing agency, has urged owners of guesthouses, bed and breakfast facilities as well as lodges to register with them to benefit financially during the 2010 World Cup.

This is according to Mahandra Naidoo, the agency's senior operations manager, who added that South Africa still needed 25 000 guest rooms to cater for the biggest soccer event.

Owners who want to be service providers during the tournament will have to be graded by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) before registering with Match, who are also dealing with the 2009 Confederations Cup.

"There are no financial costs to enter a contract with us," said Naidoo. "If they are not graded at the time of contracting, then they would have a year after signing the Match contract within which to become graded by the TGCSA."

One of the advantages of the registered businesses in the accommodation industry is that available rooms will be listed on www.fifa.com, Fifa's website and the World Cup official accommodation brochure.

The official website is used by soccer lovers globally to plan their trips to various competitions. They use it to make accommodation bookings, purchase tickets and arrange transport.

During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the website was popular globally recording 4,2 billion page views.

Neighbouring countries such as Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Namibia are also busy with wide- scale renovations in the hope of getting a slice of the World Cup pie.

Most South Africans, especially those in the areas where new stadiums are being built and existing ones upgraded, are turning their houses into guesthouses. Irvin Khoza, the LOC chairman, has urged people wanting to capitalise on the World Cup to do their homework first, so their money is not wasted.

X