Since serving as one of 10 host cities to the 2010 FIFA World Cup – an event that attracted more than 3 million people to South Africa and generated billions of dollars in economic impact – the City of Mbombela has wanted to develop a sustainable plan to attract tourists. To help with the conceptual infrastructure, the municipality’s executive mayor, Cllr Cathy Dlamini, has enlisted the help of tourism experts from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
“Ever since Mbombela had a taste of tourism with the World Cup, they’ve wanted to figure out how create a sustainable plan for it,” said Dr. Abraham Pizam, dean of Rosen College. “We wanted to show them how we do that, so we invited Mbombela officials to Orlando.”
During their September visit to Orlando, Mbombela officials toured theme parks and the Orange County Convention Center, where Pizam explained how similar attractions could help complement Mbombela’s relatively new soccer stadium and Kruger National Park – one of the largest wildlife parks in the world.
The visit resulted in an invitation for Rosen College administrators to speak at the 2012 Local Economic Development Summit, held Jan. 26-27 in Mbombela. In addition to Pizam, others who spoke on how to attract tourists were Fevzi Okumus, the department chair, Professor Ron Logan, and Orlando hotelier Harris Rosen, the college’s chief benefactor.
At the end of the summit, Pizam signed a memorandum of understanding that Rosen College will help with the conceptual planning of a convention center and tourist attraction in Mbombela.
In addition to helping with the development plan, Rosen College will also work with Tshwane University of Technology to exchange ideas and information that will benefit both schools.