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Cape Town - With less than a month to go to the football World Cup in South Africa, less than half of all hotel rooms in the Cape Town region have been booked

despite hotels in the city slashing their prices to try to woo more fans.

Cape Town had been expecting an influx of visitors over the course of the tournament.
The city will host eight games in a new stadium that is perched at the foot of the famous flat-topped Table Mountain, starting with a Uruguay-France game on June 11 and ending with a semi-final on July 6.
But at the 100 days to go mark, hotels and guesthouses in Western Cape province were only 46 per cent full for June, the provincial tourism department told a press conference this week.
The final figure is not expected to exceed 60 per cent, provincial 2010 spokeswoman Wieki de Vries told the German Press Agency dpa, adding bookings for July would "probably be a bit lower".
Provincial tourism minister Alan Winde said he expected more of the area's 54,000 rooms to be snapped up for the last eight, quarter- final and the semi-final games - once fans knew which teams had made it.

But Cape Town's spectacular location is, ironically, turning out to be a turnoff.

Like the majority of the 32 teams competing in the Cup, most of the fans have decided to base themselves in Johannesburg or Pretoria. The two cities are within four hours drive of six of the 10 stadiums and between them account for 21 of all 64 games.
The nearest host city to Cape Town, by contrast, is Port Elizabeth, 769 kilometres away in Eastern Cape province.
Like FIFA, Winde blamed the global economic crisis and the fact that South Africa is a long-haul destination for European football fans for disappointing overall numbers.
From an initial estimate of 450,000 foreign fans, FIFA officials say they are now hoping to hit 300,000.

Some fans in Europe have cited South Africa's high violent crime rates as a deterrent but most say cost is the biggest impediment.
Apart from the cost of getting to South Africa, prospective visitors were dismayed to find that many hotels and guesthouses had doubled or tripled their price and domestic airlines had jacked up their fares.
Since March, however, airfares and accommodation costs have dropped significantly, as airlines and hotels try to fill thousands of seats and rooms returned by FIFA's official booking agency MATCH and other tour operators.

Cape Town's new centrally-located five-star Coral International Hotel, part of the Dubai-based Coral Hotels chain, has slashed the price of a double room by 39 per cent, from 6,100 rand (792 dollars) to 3,700rand (480 dollars).
Protea Hotels, Africa's largest hotel chain, has also begun running World Cup special offers in seven of the nine host cities, including Johannesburg and Cape Town, starting at 465 rand (65 dollars) per person sharing.
Even a tent city for budget travellers in Johannesburg has had to deflate its prices, leading to jokes about this being South Africa's "winter of discount-tent."

Barry Mackay, consultant at the Tent City, which sleeps 1,280, said only about 150 campers had confirmed their bookings by May 18, although a group of 1,000 South Korean youths had also expressed strong interest.

"Bookings are down on expectations. We know that," Michael Tatalias, chief executive of the Southern African Tourism Services Association said.
"I'm hoping we'll get a surge (of visitors) if word goes out that prices have dropped and that there's available capacity," he added.
Bar that, the main hope is that some fans who decided to sit out the tournament at home will jump on a plane to South Africa if their team does well.
World Cup chief organizer Danny Jordaan predicts that "if England gets into the knock-out stages and the quarter-final, you will see a second flood of fans arriving in this country."

Hotels in Capetown
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