Mixed World Cup business for Mpumalanga

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The 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup has brought mixed fortunes to businesses in the Mpumalanga Lowveld with restaurants and accommodation establishments reaping the main benefits. But informal traders say they are disappointed by the lack of positive spin-offs. 

Businesses prepared months in advance for the World Cup, and the last game at Nelspruit's Mbombela stadium was played on Friday but for some, their dreams of making big money during the tournament were shattered. An informal trader selling flags and other sports memorabilia alongside the road says he did not have more clients than usual. 

Others say the rules governing the tournament restricted participation and that most of the services were reserved by Match, a FIFA-appointed worldwide exclusive rights holder company. Tour operator Themba Mdluli says most of the visitors used luxury coaches and did not stay within the vicinity of where matches were played. 

However in local shopping centres, the influx of international tourists was clearly visible and hotels and guesthouses were fully booked on match days. Close on 100 tourists visited the Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism's offices every day for bookings or information. 

The business chamber is hopeful that long term business opportunities will flow from the event. Last week, a pre-match business meeting was held between local businessmen and their Australian counterparts and there is growing interest in the province's transport  and energy and tourism sectors.



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