Soccer boosts travel bookings for South Africa

Football enthusiasts are travelling to South Africa [ Images ] in high numbers to watch the Fédération Internationale de Football Association World Cup 2010, regardless of the expensive nature of the destination. Travel agents have seen a jump in the bookings for the World Cup period from 10 to 60 per cent.

Bhawna Agarwal, Founding Vice President -- Airlines Business Group, said, "We have seen an increase in bookings for South Africa of six-seven per cent. We are expecting bookings to go up further next week by about 10 per cent and maybe more, as we come closer to the quarter and semi-finals. Also, a trend we have noticed is that these bookings are mostly a Delhi [ Images ] and Mumbai [ Images ] phenomena; not too many people from Tier-II and III cities are travelling for the World Cup."

Anand Kandadai, Vice President -- Outbound Tours,, said: "We have seen an increase in enquiries by almost 100 per cent but in case of bookings, the increase has been by 60 per cent. We expect enquires to go up as the World Cup progresses, but bookings aren't expected, since the inventory is almost sold off."

Most travel agents say Jet Airways [ Get Quote ] seems to be preferred for the travellers. It is the only carrier to have a direct Mumbai-Johannesburg daily flight and has offered the lowest return fare, of Rs 38,190. (Ticket prices were calculated using June 16 as departure and June 20 as the returning date, using the lowest fare option.)  

"Jet is the preferred airline but people are also opting for Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways, due to the price advantage," said Kandadai.

Jet Airways launched a direct flight on the Mumbai-Johannesburg route on April 14. The carrier also provides onward connections within South Africa and to other African destinations from Johannesburg.

A Jet Airways spokesperson said, "Jet has seen impressive loads in Premiere class travel between Mumbai and Johannesburg, coinciding with the inauguration of World Cup soccer."

Praveen Meloth, AVP-Marketing, Travelguru, said: "South Africa is a costly destination. The general trend we are seeing is that hotel rates have also gone up with the wave of tourists coming in, which have added to the expensive nature of the destination." It hasn't deterred people from travelling, as enquiries continue to pour in.