Reputation survey: Africa's game plan

As the World Cup kicks off, the reputation of host nation South Africa as a tourist destination is predicted to improve significantly despite concerns about safety.

South Africa can expect a significant reputational boost as a result of hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a new report shows.

PRWeek/OnePoll's latest survey of 3,000 members of the public found 72 per cent believed hosting the tournament would help South Africa market itself as a desirable tourist destination. And it seems this is much needed. In total, 56 per cent of respondents said they did not consider South Africa to be a 'safe' tourist destination. A further 41 per cent said they thought it was 'quite safe', with just three per cent perceiving it as 'very safe'.

A high crime rate was named as the biggest problem facing South Africa by 43 per cent of respondents, followed by poverty, cited by 22 per cent.

However, 60 per cent agreed that hosting the World Cup would help the country overcome its reputational problems.

As the tournament kicks off, there are many reputations at stake - those of teams, players, countries, managers and even wives and girlfriends (WAGs).

In total, 23 per cent of respondents said the reputation of football as a sport would benefit the most from the tournament, with 22 per cent saying the winning team would enjoy the greatest reputational boost.

But it was bad news for the WAGs, the subject of much media scrutiny and criticism in recent tournaments. Less than one per cent of respondents said their reputation would benefit most from the tournament.

An overwhelming 84 per cent of respondents said England had the right man as manager in Fabio Capello, but opinion on whether the team could win the World Cup was split 50:50.

HOW I SEE IT - Rachel Froggatt, Director of sport, Braben

Sport is a brilliant marketing partner for a destination and our clients often ask us how best to capitalise on this. Sport has the power to bring to life the best (and worst) of a location, depending on how the event goes, but critically how that location responds.

While this research indicates the World Cup has the potential to improve South Africa's reputation, it also shows vulnerability. As kick-off day is reached and despite an extensive pre-event PR campaign, 56 per cent still believe it is unsafe, citing high crime. But the good news is the same percentage believe the World Cup could help overcome reputational issues. Only the event itself can confirm or refute perception.

During the next four weeks, we would recommend a PR strategy that communicates the natural charms of the country and its people, the quality of infrastructure and organisation, and issues management that deals with stakeholders in an open and honest way.

- How safe a tourist destination do you consider South Africa to be?

Very safe: 3%

Quite safe: 41%

Not safe: 56%

- Do you think the World Cup will help South Africa market itself as a desirable tourist destination?

No: 28%

Yes: 72%

ENGLAND MANAGER: 84% of respondents said Fabio Capello was the right man to be the England boss

TEAM CHOICE: 81% said they were happy with the England squad selected by Capello

ENGLAND TO TRIUMPH: 50% said they believed England could win the World Cup

WAGS' REPUTATION: 0.77% said the players' wives and girlfriends' reputations would benefit most from the World Cup

- Survey of 3,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll.

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