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Brand image legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cupтм : a long-term assessment
Sport mega-events are a powerful tool for branding nations. There has been a significant shift in countries that bid for and win the rights to host sport mega-events. Historically, Western countries used to be leaders in winning rights to host such events; however a new emerging trend has seen developing countries winning the rights ahead of developed ones, for example, South Africa, Brazil and Russia winning the rights to host the FIFA World CupTM. South Africa faced a serious branding challenge leading up to the 2010 FIFA World CupTM. Therefore, one of the primary objectives of hosting this tournament was to change international tourists’ perceptions of South Africa. There has been limited research on the brand legacies of the 2010 FIFA World CupTM, hence this research examined the brand image legacies of the tournament in the long run. It is believed that the football fans who attended the 2016 UEFA European Championship either visited South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World CupTM or watched the tournament on television (TV) at home, therefore they have certain perceptions of South Africa as a sport tourism destination. A quantitative methodology was employed to survey football tourists at fan parks and stadium precincts in five metropolitan cities in France during the 2016 UEFA European Championship, using a spatially based systematic sampling technique. In total 391 football tourist questionnaires were completed. The key findings reveal that prior to the 2010 FIFA World CupTM, football tourists’ perceptions of South Africa as a sport tourism destination were generally positive; however they indicated that they were very concerned about safety and security, as well as segregation issues, prior to the tournament. It can be argued that the tournament had a significant impact on reinforcing the positive perceptions of the destination as well as reducing the negative perceptions of the destination. The findings reveal statistically significant differences in most aspects between tourists’ perceptions prior to, and six years after, the 2010 FIFA World CupTM. Tourists’ perceptions on most aspects changed positively six years after the event, including those that were major concerns prior to the tournament. The findings also show that there has been very little repeat visitation to South Africa since South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA Word CupTM. However, an overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they were willing to travel to South Africa should it host another sport mega-event in the near future. The key findings of this study have a wider applicability to sport mega-events legacy research and body of knowledge. These key findings can assist destination marketers in managing the destination image and foster a greater understanding of brand image legacies of past mega-events in order to inform the bidding and hosting of future sport mega-events.