In a matter of days the world’s largest sports event will come to a close. 2010 FIFA World Cup champions will be crowned, fans will blow their vuvuzelas in unison of tens of thousands one last time, stadiums will empty, the media will switch channels, athletes and travellers will go home. The FIFA World Cup lens will move to Brasil. South Africa, the host nation, will resume regular programming.

And the hangover of 30 days of football festivities will set in.

It has already started, actually. Following the first of two Semi-Finals in one of the nation’s three major host cities, the morning after the night before for Cape Town is still, silent, sad. There is a feeling of it’s over.

The hang-over is being felt not just by fans celebrating Holland’s success in securing a place in the Finals (or commiserating Uruguay’s not), but by the people of the host city. It is time to turn the lights out in the city’s new, iconic stadium graced by the backdrop of Table Mountain and encircling sea. That feeling of sadness will soon take over Durban as the host city braces itself for their hosting of the second Semis this evening, and then the moment of turning off the lights in their beautiful new stadium.

Magnification of this feeling, this sadness, will hit a crescendo as the Finals are played. While there will be (already is) immense pride felt by South Africans across the country and world in the successful hosting of the Games, tears of good-bye will fall for not only departing fans, but for closure of a dream.

The man has landed on the moon. The vision has been realised. And whichever team takes home the FIFA Word Cup, the people of the host nation would passionately argue that it is South Africa which won.

But what now? What next? What after the moon?

What can we expect?

Hosting of major events come with them immense expectations – expectations of delivery, expectations of accountability, and expectations of transformation. Especially economically.

But the reality is this: 30 days of sport cannot transform, sustainably, a national economy. It is simply not possible.

What is possible, and more meaningful, is the transformation which can occur in national confidence.

There is no question that through successful hosting of this mega-event the confidence which exists in South Africa has grown exponentially across the people of the world and across the people of the nation. And of great importance, of potential investors.

Confidence is a currency, especially for nations emerging as new forces of social and economic development on the global stage. It is a critical fuel for the growth and development of nations. And it is this currency which must be sought out as a key deliverable when mega-events are executed by nations.

By showing the world ‘we can do it‘, nations taking on global event challenges (ie. Beijing with the 2008 Olympics, South Africa with the 2010 World Cup, India with the 2010 Commonwealth Games and others), are able to showcase proof of delivery and strong ROI.

But this confidence needs to be channeled, with absolute clarity, towards a ‘what next’ – the new vision, the next planet to reach. Because to conclude a mega-event with simply good-byes and a headache would be to shortchange a dream.

So important to sustainable mega-event success is the host nation having ready a ‘what next’ – a post-event development plan which uses as capital all that has just been achieved, qualitatively and quantitatively (and naturally aligns to the long-term national development strategy).

Developing a ‘what next’, and overtly communicating it to the nation immediately following completion of a mega-event, ensures ROI of host nation/city investment is realised through
leveraging, long after the event concludes, newly established:

  • memory of success,
  • confidence in delivery,
  • unity of national spirit,
  • commitment to building the nation,
  • participation on the global stage, and
  • desire for investment into hard and soft infrastructure of the future

towards fulfilling a new vision.

To look up to the moon is not only about setting one’s eyes on a place higher and brighter, it is about holding one’s chin up with pride. And powerful conviction. Every single day.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010


In just over one hour the first whistle will blow on the 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP in South Africa. Finally, following 12 years of visioning, 6 years of organisation, an estimated US$ 4 billion in direct capital investment, selection of 32 international teams, and millions of man-hours of preparations, KE NAKO – it’s time!

And for 49 million people, with the world watching alongside, a life-long dream will come true.

For South Africa the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup has been a remarkable project. Packaged as an international Mega-event, the 2010 Games are the greatest single injection of investment the nation has seen since its liberation in 1994. A national upgrade programme, the 2010 Games demanded that the country get to work, ensuring that the fundamentals were well in place to host the largest, most watched sporting event on Earth. Estimates of investment levels vary – there are as many projections as opinions.

SA2010.GOV.ZA predicted in late 2009: “Before adding new stadiums in Cape Town and Durban, the original estimate was $295 million. Don’t be surprised it at the end of the day, it’s a lot more than the £3.7 billion.”

In early 2010 the Government’s total contribution to infrastructure and stadiums stood at R17.4 billion. Of this:

  • R9 billion was allocated towards transport and supporting infrastructure
  • R8,4 billion funded the building of five new World Cup stadiums and the upgrading another five

In addition to World Cup infrastructure projects, funding has also been channeled towards non-infrastructure projects – sports and recreation programmes, arts and culture programmes, policing, emergency medical services and telecommunications upgrades. The source of these massive funds? The people of South Africa, through the National government, though these will be supplemented by contributions from provincial government, local government and other private sector and investment partners.

Immense amounts of investment, in a nation hungry for the foundations of a nation in rebuilding mode.

So why make such an investment into what could be simply a tourism event? Why not hospitals, and schools, and utilities? Why this, now? Why, where there are so many risks of “I told you so!” if something goes wrong?

Because of what we will build beyond 2010, once the Games have ended, champions been crowned, fans departed and stadium lights turned off. We know there will be red ink when it comes time to balance expenses vs. earnings. The global economic recession, troubles with games and airline tickets, accommodation challenges. There will be losses. There will be questions re. viability. There will be questions re. R.O.I.

But there is one more important question which a nation needs to ask when weighing up the pros and cons of massive Tourism investment, especially in Mega-Events:


Think about it. What if, on May 15th, 2004, South Africa had not been awarded 2010 World Cup host nation status?

Or if Beijing had not been awarded hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games?

Or India the 2010 Commonwealth Games?

What would we see? Today, six years on, would we actually see any difference to the day before?

And considering the job and earnings losses caused by the global economic crisis, would we have endured had we not had the 2010 Games to deliver on?

As recently expressed by Dr Laurine Platzky, Deputy Director-General, 2010 FIFA World Cup Coordinator in the Department of the Premier, in the Western Cape (home of host city Cape Town) in a speech at the book launch of the new, iconic CT Stadium:

“Imagine if we had not had the World Cup. Would we by now have housed and employed all the people in the city? Would we, with all those billions spent on the World Cup, instead have educated all our children, fed the hungry and restructured our city – probably not because we would still have been arguing on how to do it all. Forgive me but without a tight deadline, budget and dedicated teams of skilled people, structural change is not possible. Nothing like time and money to focus the mind. “

What if we hadn’t?

  • What would our streets look like?
  • What would our airports, stadia, telecomms, security and transport systems look like?
  • What would our society look like?
  • How would our future be different?

And importantly…

  • How would the world look at us?
  • How would we look at ourselves?
  • And how would we feel when we look at our flag?

The calculation of the ROI of Tourism Investment, be it a major event, a major development or a major campaign, includes a number of metrics. And not all of them are numbers, quantitative, black & white.

The challenges are leverage, legacy and linkages. And they are for each and every national to make ‘work’ to ensure that the Games truly work for the nation.

To soundbyte South Africa at this precise moment would be a cocktail of the deafening sound of the vuvuzelas, the magnificent flashes of colour from the waving flags, the pure tears of anticipation as the clock counts down, the global headlines already announcing South Africa’s readiness to welcome the world…and the world’s readiness to welcome South Africa. And there is still one hour before kick-off of Game #1.

These are the moments which inspire belief, inspire relook, inspire future visitation, inspire confidence in the possibility of growth and development, and inspire future investment.

They are not defining moments, they are RE-defining moments.

But what if South Africa hadn’t?

It’s hard to even imagine.
Just as the feeling in the hearts of South Africans, here in South Africa and across the world, right now, could ever have been.

It’s time!

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010


Aerial views of the world are always so incredibly inspiring. A wide-angle lens has the ability to turn our world into a textural canvas of wonder. A spectrum of colour arranged in combinations reflecting both courage and care in creation, looking ‘at’ soon turns to looking ‘within’. Blues dancing with greens, browns breaking through bands of white. Mountain ranges, seascapes, cloud formations, carpets of desert, endless beauty. Together these are the landscapes which form the greater masterpiece of the globe. Such views inspire vision, inspire faith, inspire respect and appreciation. To see the world in its pure, untouched glory inspires the purest of smiles.

Though sadly, at this very moment an aerial view of the world – the Gulf of Mexico in particular – would inspire a desire to look away. First in shock. Then in sadness. Ultimately in quiet shame.

Over a once-perfect canvas, blues now are broken by clawing bands of black, darkness swallowing up the bright. Each and every day the claws of blackness are reaching wider, creeping nearer and nearer to the green.

It started just over twenty days ago. A massive oil rig commissioned by a massive international oil company seeking energy to feed the world’s massive hunger for black gold set out on a massive operation. A small black dot of an event on the regional map, indistinguishable by the naked eye. Out of the blue an explosion lit the sky with towering flames of red and smoke clouds of black. Something had gone horribly wrong. Initial calculations – eleven lives lost. The ache life changing for all involved: families, colleagues, onlookers.

Such loss of man in man’s quest for what more there is to be found. All that was left were endless flows of tears.

And then the spillover of the tragedy – it was not only tears flowing. So too was crude oil. Massive amounts of it, oozing out from a leak in a pipe on the floor of the Gulf, flooding oil straight into the Gulf of Mexico, unstoppably. And with it, more loss of life. Little lives – feathery lives, furry lives, jelly lives, shelled lives, tens of thousands of little lives. Lives lost which broke through the corporate oil company headlines and made it possible for the world to not only see the impact of our efforts to master the world, but to feel the impact.

At this stage, over three weeks on, calculations are unattainable as the impact of the spill is exponential. Current estimates state up to 200 gallons per day, and still leaking. Ominous black dread. The costs have been, and continue to be, massive. The black spot on our waters unforgiving, untamable, unstoppable.

One of the reasons for the inability to calculate the damage has been the ever-growing increase in the number of spheres of impact, including:

Obviously, from the accident itself:

  • Losses of Oil, from the leak
  • Losses of Revenue, from the wasted oil
  • Losses of Money, from the clean-up
  • Losses of corporate Brand equity

But more importantly, from the growing oil slick and contamination of waters:

  • Losses of Aquaculture
  • Losses of Tourism industry activity
  • Losses of Natural Environment
  • Losses of Earnings and Jobs, of those dependent on the Gulf for livelihoods
  • Losses of Political focus, from the emergence of crisis
  • Losses of federal Funds, diverted towards clean-up efforts and compensation / support / economic restimulation of those places effected

Sadly this catastrophe has begun to show signs of a campaign, even before there are signs of repair and recovery. In the US it is being referred to as “Obama’s Katrina”. Creative questions have been raised regarding whether this was in fact a conspiracy. Sadly such creativity of thought in the political space is not being applied where it is most desperately needed – in the scientific space seeking solutions urgently required to stop the leak, contain the spill and save the Gulf. And seeking safe, truly sustainable forms of energy, for the better of all lives, including the little, voiceless ones.

As Ted Turner, the courageous and visionary founder of CNN, recently questioned in an interview with the network: how is it possible that on the same day that we launch a rocket into space we cannot plug the hole?

Because soon, in the thick of all of the oil globules sinking to the bottom of the Gulf and in the thick of all of the debate regarding blame, the little heartbeats of the little lives underwater will stop…all while the oil continues to flow.

Ultimately, the events in the Gulf of Mexico poses a critical question: when it comes to sustainable energy, where should we be applying our energies?

From every direction the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico it is an absolute mess. Industrially, politically, economically, socially, philosophically, environmentally. An aerial view alone shows what a profound dark spot this mess will leave on our record as a civilisation seeking to find a better way to create the future, to move forward.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010


Sitting in Africa’s largest airport, JNB, waiting to board a flight to the USA (LAX) thankfully via the Middle East (DXB), there is a strange sense in the air. A feeling not usually felt by air travellers embarking on a journey. A feeling magnified by the television in the lounge providing news updates from the UK on the latest from European airspace: “thank Heavens my flight is leaving!”

Why such inner relief? Why feeling so thankful for being able to do what has become an expectation – book, buy, board, fly? Because across the globe, since the third eruption of a volcano named Eyjafjallajokull far far north in Iceland, planes and passengers from America to Australia have been grounded. Mother Nature has spoken and sent us back to our rooms.

As a result, since April 14th, dismay has spread across airports and airlines as wide as plumes of volcanic ash. While NASA imagery showed the extent of the grey area, for aviation experts across the world there was no grey area – there was simply no way flights could continue into and out of the region.

The call was made. The engines were switched off. The departure boards translated ‘Cancelled’ into as many languages were required to alert passengers across the waiting world. Anywhere and everywhere. And the watching world taken through a 101 on the impact of ash on aircraft windscreens and engines.

As has become a pattern since the beginning of the decade, once again we are experiencing an event beyond fiction and imagination. Another event which has had us stuck in thought wondering, with furrowed brows, “but how could that happen?” Once again we have been shown that acts of God will always, always trump acts of technology, innovation and bravado.

And once again we have been reminded of just how much we have come to take for granted.

Global air travel, getting from A to B when and how one wishes, has become an expectation. Our awe has shifted from the power of flight to the power of in-flight entertainment. Our ability to come and go as we please / need absolutely has enhanced the reach, productivity and joy of our lives. To be able to board a flight, fall asleep, and wake in another culture, time zone and state of mind is a gift. Even for those who spend more time up at 35k than in their local gym, it is a gift. Often a favourite space. Air travel has become a true enhancement to quality life.

And so, to be grounded is to be stunted, practically and emotionally. Not to mention financially.

At present losses to Airlines are estimated – on a daily basis – to be:

  • 66% of European Flights
  • 180 Transatlantic flights
  • 28,000 flights
  • $ 200 million dollars

as well as prompting declines in share prices of +/- 3%.

This does not even take into account the losses in revenues and productivity for business and export.

But what must not be overlooked is the loss which takes place in, for lack of better words, heart. Moments lost, personal moments of meaning, due to lack of mobility. This article has in fact been inspired by a Client who is currently stuck in JFK, desperately trying to get back to the UK since the end of the week, in order to stand beside his brother at the end of the aisle, as Best Man. The Best Man’s wedding speech will now be an email transmission. The day will be a series of photographs. The heartbreak enduring.

Would I exchange my ticket to enable his flight? In a heartbeat.

As the days ahead unfold and the aviation skies into and out of Europe open up once more, may we not lose the sense of blessing each time we board. Our movement is now part of our identity…

Time to board.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010


hroughout the calendar year, throughout the world, nations stop to mark days of significance – moments in time of the creation of the history of a nation, shaping the lives, lifestyles, values and future vision of its people.

Public Holidays. Days of national ‘pause’. Days meant for national reconnection to history, to meaning, to one another. Days where events are organised to celebrate, to commemorate, to reflect and to refocus.

Days to be still, because it is important to be aware.

Sadly, however, the business and busy-ness of everyday life has turned public holidays into simply days off. Dates on the calendar set aside for national/cultural/religious observance have become opportunities for people to get personal stuff done. To get some rest. To get things in order for when the pause button is released.

When the day arrives, however, we are reminded of the reason for the occasion…and often humbled by its depth of meaning. How could it’s original, collective intent have been lost by immediate, personal priorities? How could its purpose have been taken for granted? Especially when public holidays are set aside to ensure that the story of the history of a nation is shared generation after generation, by each and every person who is a stitch in the fabric of the nation.

Almost every nation in the world can look at its annual calendar and identity two to three public holidays set aside to bookmark important chapters of the story of the evolution of the country – as a place, as a people, as a spirit…and as hosts to travellers to our land who often arrive because of the remarkable stories of our past, and how they shape our future.

In losing the meaning behind public holidays, are we losing the importance of the storytelling?

One of the world’s strongest examples of the usage of public holidays as active, on-going reminders of the story of a nation’s progress is the re-structured calendar of South Africa.

On its liberation in 1994, then President Mandela and the national congress felt it imperative that the people of the new South Africa, and the people of the world, never forget all that the nation fought – the moments which shaped the stories of the struggle, important footprints along its long walk to freedom.

As a result seven new national public holidays were created, making it possible for South Africans (and its visitors) to come together throughout the year to mindfully salute and celebrate all that took place to take the nation forward.

Most notably:

  • March 21st: Human Rights Day – created to ensure that the people of South Africa are aware of their human rights and need to continuously honours and protect same.
  • April 27th: Freedom Day – celebrating the first democratic elections held in 1994 and the nation’s new constitution of 1997.
  • May 1st: Worker’s Day – commemorating the importance of workers and trade unions
  • June 16th, Youth Day, honouring the young people lost in the struggle against Apartheid and Bantu Education
  • August 9th: National Women’s Day – honouring the critical role which women played in keeping the struggle alive, and the importance of continuing to protect women as part of South Africa’s strength and future
  • September 24th: Heritage Day – celebrating the nation’s diversity of cultures, customs, traditions, histories, and languages
  • December 16th: Day of Reconciliation – a day to collectively, as a nation, reflect on the need to rise above conflicts of the past and continue to work together to build a new nation.

Still, dates on a calendar do not guarantee days of purposeful pause. Stories are words on the pages of a book until warm hands and hearts begin the storytelling.

The political leadership of a nation, particularly those in the Tourism sector, are perfectly positioned to be carriers of the stories which showcase the nation to its people and its visitors. With their profile and platform, leaders are able to ensure that understanding, appreciation and active commemoration occur, annually, with inspiration.

But this requires overt, organised and official commitment – commitment to lifting the dates off the calendar and into the hearts and minds of people, at home and across the world.

Interestingly, in making such a commitment the nation also makes it possible to create a new bouquet of traveller experiences. Through turning historical, cultural and religious public holidays into events, events which become national times of unity and celebration (whilst maintaining the essence of their meaning), a rich array of new tourism experience development opportunities are created to grow both international and domestic traveller numbers.

A natural Tourism sector growth opportunity.

But more importantly, a mechanism to keep the important stories of a nation alive.

And turning storytelling into a strategic lever for destination growth and development – in spirit, in unity, and in visitor numbers.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010