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Visitors’ perceptions of the 2010 FIFA world cup: a case study of the host city Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth
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The continent of Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time in 2010. The historical hosting of Africa‟s first mega-event by South Africa was deemed to be a key opportunity to initiate and promote socio-economic legacies for local South Africans. Therefore, the importance of examining visitor experiences and perceptions of the event cannot be overemphasised. The global struggle for competitive advantage, national reputation or nation branding is in recent times more and more significant as countries compete for attention, respect and trust of investors, tourists, consumers, donors, immigrants and media. Assessing visitors‟ experiences can contribute significantly to knowledge management and inform the planning of future events to leverage positive benefits while minimising the negative impacts. In this study, visitors‟ perceptions of the event are examined using Nelson Mandela Bay / Port Elizabeth (one of the nine  host cities for the 2010 event) as a case study. A spatially-based systematic sampling technique was used to interview visitors at fan parks and in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium precinct during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Face-to-face interviews were conducted and in all, two thousand, two hundred and twenty-five (n=2225) visitors were interviewed. The key findings reveal that many of the visitors came from the key tourism source markets of South Africa (the United Kingdom [UK], Germany, the Netherlands, the United States of America [USA] and France), were men and had an average age of thirty three (33) years. They generally had positive perceptions about the hosting of the event and the quality of tourism facilities and services on offer during their stay in Nelson Mandela Bay / Port Elizabeth, and South Africa generally. Additionally, many visitors suggested that the hosting of the event in Nelson Mandela Bay / Port Elizabeth offered an opportunity to experience a different tourism destination, with potential for future repeat visitations. However, the city was found to be a poor responsible tourism destination and as not being a good value-for-money destination. During the event, the Nelson Mandela Bay / Port Elizabeth region arguably drew its biggest international crowd as it usually receives fewer international tourists when compared to other regions in South Africa. The study therefore underscores the need for local tourism authorities to devise strategies aimed at capitalising on the exposure garnered through the hosting of the event and at maximising the opportunity to tap into new tourism markets with a view to increasing international visitation in a province that is said to attract only five percent of South Africa‟s international visitors.