A comparative study of rural community and ecotourism park managers' perceptions of the 2010 FIFA World Cup : case study of Izibukwana and Makhowe communities as well as Tala and Ezulwini private parks, respectively.
The staging of sport mega-events such as the Football or FIFA World Cup has drawn much attention from different countries, as a result they bid to host such events because of the social, economic and political positive spin-offs associated with them (Swart and Bob, 2004; Grundling and Steynberg, 2008). Deccio and Baloglu (2002) assert that sport mega-events, because of their magnitude and size, have the potential of not only impacting upon the host cities but their impacts can also be felt in the periphery of the host cities. Cornelissen and Swart (2006) specifically state that the winning of the 2010 FIFA bid presents a challenge to the South African government on delivering on its promise of improving the lives of all South Africans through hosting the 2010 event. Rural communities in South Africa remain marginalised and often impoverished. Deccio and Baloglu (2002) argue that most studies about sport mega-events focus on the host city’s resident’s perceptions and neglect the perceptions of the non-host rural communities. This study specifically assesses what rural communities and Park Managers expect (both the costs and benefits) from the 2010 event and how they are planning to use the event to their advantage. This is a particularly neglected area of research in relation to mega-events. Questionnaires were administered to 100 household respondents in two rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal (Izibukwana which is close to Durban, one of the semi-final host cities and Makhowe which is approximately 200 km away from Durban). Telephonic interviews were conducted with the Park Managers (one from Tala Private Park and another from Ezulwini Private Park, in KwaZulu-Natal). The findings of the study reveal perceptions of different stakeholder groups (rural communities and Park managers) about the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup. The results indicates that the socioeconomic status of the respondents was low because of reasons such as high unemployment rate, lower level of education, low income level and also lack of basic services. Most of the community respondents and both Park managers indicated that the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be the best ever and leave positive legacies for South Africa. However, the Park managers indicated that they do not think that the 2010 event, since it will be a once-off event, will have any positive impacts or leave any legacies for their Parks as they are already well established ecotourism sites. The Park managers also indicated that they are not preparing for the 2010 event since they already have improved infrastructure such as accommodation areas that can cater for the visitors who will be coming for the 2010 event. Furthermore, linkages/ partnerships linked to 2010 do not exist and Park managers do not see this happening. The results also indicate that communities expect direct benefits from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. However, most community respondents indicated that they can mostly benefit directly from the 2010 event if they can establish a relationship or form partnership with their adjacent Parks. What also emerges as a critical finding is the linkages with tourism enterprises located in or in close proximity to the rural communities. It is envisaged that these linkages need to be strengthened to ensure that socio-economic opportunities related to the hosting of the World Cup are developed in rural areas.