The South African government has called foul over plans to use cruise ships to provide accommodation at next year’s football World Cup.
German media tycoon Leo Kirch planned to charter two Holland America Line vessels, Westerdam and Noordam, and moor them as floating hotels at Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth during next summer’s competition. The deal, reported to cost £9 million, would have provided 4,600 beds.
However, the South African Tourism Ministry has now made clear that berthing rights for both ships were based on the proviso that the vessels brought tourists to the country.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter had said cruise ships could be the solution to the shortage of 15,000 hotel beds for the month-long World Cup finals from June 11 to July 11, 2010. At least 500,000 people are expected to attend the event.
But South African authorities disagreed. “The position of the Tourism Ministry was always that we don’t want ships at the World Cup that have the objective of anchoring in our harbours and presenting themselves as alternatives to our local hotels,” a spokesman told the German press agency dpa.
All of which must mean that separate plans to move the liner QE2 from Dubai to Cape Town may get kicked into touch as well.