Cape Winelands miss out on 2010

Even Ronaldo can miss an opportunity.
Even Ronaldo can miss an opportunity.

SO, where did South Africa’s wine tourism organisations go wrong? After two years of yacking as to how the respective bodies were working towards securing the presence of an international soccer team for the duration of World Cup 2010, the tournament draw as well as the dishing out of base camps for visiting teams has been done.

Without one team to date having chosen a winelands destination as a base camp.

The wine regions dearly wanted to host a few of the teams. A town chosen as a base camp for say, the Italian soccer team, becomes a home-away-from-home for the team, their tens of thousands of supporters and the couple of thousand journalists following the team in question. Media exposure is huge for the town, its region and its various economic activities.

With the splendid training and medical facilities of say, Stellenbosch, as well as the winelands being at the forefront of the South African hospitality industry, it really is surprising that not one of the 32 soccer teams participating in World Cup 2010 has chosen to base itself in one of the winelands towns.

This must come as a blow to the winelands, who have gone to extraordinary lengths to position their collective tourism offerings as among the best South Africa ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ and the Global Wine Capitals – have to offer. And when it comes to giving the outside a world an intimate look and feel of what the winelands has to offer, the mega-TV coverage that accompanies 2010 base camp status is not to be sniffed at. Especially for a wine industry trying to raise its profile internationally.

But here we are. Three teams have chosen Jo’burg, Brazil has gone to Bloemfontein and Franschhoek’s very Francophile community must be chocking on their crocs madame’s that France has chosen Knysna in which to base itself for the tournament.

Where did it go wrong?

The Drakenstein Municipality, which includes Paarl, spent a truckload of money in preparing its base camp bid. This included frequent visits to Germany to check out how base camps worked during the 2006 tournament.

Stellenbosch had a launch to get the community behind its base base camp pitch, even procuring South Africa’s 2010 supremo Danny Jordaan for the occasion. But to date, no team has decided to use this town.

But then again, with Visa being one of Fifa’s headline sponsors, it was always going to be a tough call to support a tourism body sponsored by American Express.

At the time of writing, a few teams still have to decide on their base camps, but all the major international squads have made up their minds.

And they are not interested in our wine regions, which should hopefully lead to some introspection. Perhaps the winelands just does not have the energy and savvy of places like Knysna, Mossel Bay and Bloemfontein.

Hard to believe, but not impossible ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ especially if you keep gazing at your own navel.

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