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World Cup nets $509 million for South Africa

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The tournament brought 309,000 visitors to South Africa, the government reports
  • Nearly 60 percent of those were first-time visitors, the country's Tourism Ministry says

(CNN) -- South Africa's tourist industry happily blew its own vuvuzuela Monday, reporting a half-billion dollars in receipts from hosting this year's FIFA World Cup matches.

The tournament brought more than 309,000 visitors to South Africa and generated more than $520 million dollars in added revenue to the tourism industry, South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk announced.

"I can today say without a doubt that the success of the event will reverberate for many years to come," van Schalkwyk said in a statement announcing the final tally.

Speaking days after FIFA officials awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup -- a controversial move many say will scare off fans --van Schalkwyk said that pre-tournament fears that the long travel distances, high airline ticket costs and fear of crime would deter travelers from coming to South Africa turned out to be unfounded.

"The World Cup also attracted a large number of first-time visitors to South Africa, particularly from the Americas," he said.

The ministry's survey found that 59% of people making the trip to South Africa for the World Cup were first-time visitors. Fans from other African nations made up the biggest share of visitors, at 38%, while nearly a quarter were from Europe.

Another 13% were from Central and South America, and just over 10% came from North America, the survey showed.

And despite complaints about the buzz of the vuvuzelas and the occasional official's call, most fans said they were happy with the hosts. Of those surveyed, 90% said they thought the South African venues were nicer than expected.

CNN's Brian Walker contributed to this report.