Top signs the World Cup is almost here...(good and bad)...Jim's deals of the day
Adrian Brijbassi of the Star's Travel department is wrapping up a visit to South Africa to check on preparations for the World Cup, which starts in just over a month. Here's his latest report:CAPE TOWN - Six weeks to go to the World Cup and
Mandela’s “Cup:” Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world.” South Africans are hoping the presence of the world’s game in their country will be enough to bring their national icon back into the spotlight. But Mandela is 91 and health issues could keep him from opening the tournament. Nevertheless, FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently confirmed, “It will be his World Cup.” That means FIFA, international soccer’s governing organization, intends to repeatedly recognize Mandela’s struggles and triumphs to lift the country out of apartheid following his release from prison in 1990.
“Little England:” Astute planners equipped Cape Town Stadium with three jail cells and dubbed the lock-up zone “Little England.” Fans whose rowdiness goes too far will be taken from their seats and put in the cells that are beneath the spectacular $610-million stadium, which sits between the Atlantic Ocean and
The Diski: The dance combines moves from the night club and the soccer field. Scores of people show off their Diski steps each “Football Friday” in public squares. “Diski” is the name used for “soccer” in many of the black townships.
Airports: More than $2 billion has been spent on airport construction in preparation for the World Cup. O.R. Tambo International in
On the other hand, there are a number of illustrations of why they're not ready just yet. Here are five areas that need improvement prior to June 11:
Public transportation: Johannesburg’s train and bus stations are far from complete, and the city is counting on them to get people to Soccer City Stadium and Coca Cola Park, the venues that will host World Cup games in South Africa’s largest city.Prince of petulance: You can’t go anywhere in this country without hearing the name Julius Malema. The abrasive leader of the African National Congress Youth League has made headlines in the past week for shouting down a British journalist. The BBC reporter had suggested Malema was being hypocritical for flaunting a lavish lifestyle while promoting the nationalism of key industries.
Racial tensions rising: The murder of white supremacist Eugene Terre’Blanche on April 3 followed Malema’s endorsement of a song whose lyrics include “kill the boer”. That situation has caused an escalation in provocative language and fears of retribution from supporters of Terre’Blanche.
Porter scamming: North Americans and Europeans are not going to be impressed when they get out of a cab at an airport and have their bags seized by opportunists who wear “porter” uniforms and promise to get you to the front of the line. They may drop your bags on a luggage cart and wheel it for you to a self-serve check-in counter that doesn’t recognize your e-ticket code issued from out of the country. By that point, you should decide to hand over a few dollars (50 rand, or $7, in my case) and move on alone through the regular queue.And now, back to Jim Byers daily travel blog
HAWAII NO KA OI
Sorry, that means Hawaii is the best. Well, it's my favourite spot on earth, anyway. And it seems things are picking up on the tourism front.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority this week said visitor arrivals in March were 9.3 per cent higher than the same month last year, with nearly 608,000 visitors. Total spending was up 12.7 per cent.
Maui, again my personal favourite but they're all great, saw the biggest growth, with visitor spending up a very solid 25 per cent.
There have been some great deals for Hawaii. It might be a good time to book, especially with Ontario's new HST about to slap more taxes on our airline bookings.
STARWOOD HOTELS PROMOTION
USA Today reports Starwood on Thursday will announce a new promotion where in members of their loyalty/points program can make three stays at Starwood properties and get a weekend night free. Sounds like a pretty good deal.
Starwood includes Sheraton, W hotels, Westin, Aloft hotels and more.