DECEMBER 12, 2000
South Africa looking for tourist dollars
SOUTH AFRICA is to spend over $50m on a massive advertising campaign to attract more tourists to the country. The campaign is being aimed at Europe and will be launched in January and will highlight the low costs of visiting the country. The government hopes that increased tourism will help the country to break out of the current recession and cut crime rates by creating more jobs. At the moment the unemployment rate amongst those working age is running as high as 25%.
The government has a deal to run a Grand Prix in South Africa but the 1998 deal was negotiated in dollars and as the value of the rand has collapsed against the dollar the race has become too expensive for the organizers at Kyalami to contemplate. Formula 1 has kept its side of the bargain sending teams to test in Kyalami each winter. The lapsing of the Kyalami deal could open the way for a deal to be struck with a new facility called Phakisa Freeway which has been built with local government money near the Free State town of Welkom, 140 miles south of Johannesburg. This was created in an effort to promote a more active tourist industry in the old gold mining areas where there have been heavy job losses. Last year Phakisa hosted the South African Motorcycle Grand Prix and is aiming for a Formula 1 race as soon as possible. The rise to stardom of South African driver Tomas Scheckter (who is now the Jaguar Racing test driver) will help Phakisa's cause although recently-agreed anti-tobacco legislation is not going to help matters.
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