Property owners hoping to make a killing from 2010 accommodation rentals are likely to be bitterly disappointed, as expected tourist numbers are forecast to drop by thousands. While initial estimates forecast at least half a million tourists over the six weeks, indications are that these numbers may drop to 300 000 or below. The expected boost to the country's gross domestic product has also been downgraded from 1,5% to as little as 0,2%. Match, the exclusive agent for football governing body Fifa's Soccer World Cup, has already returned 450 000 of the 1,8 million bed nights it had originally reserved to the market. Match arranges 2010 accommodation, travelling and tickets in packages for fans who wish to attend the tournament in South Africa in June and July. Foreign fans have also bought significantly less tickets than was originally anticipated - Fifa is now releasing an additional 500 000 tickets to South African fans to try and fill stadiums across the country. Only about 10% of the 2010 accommodation available in the Kruger National Park has been booked by 2010 accommodation agent Match. To date, a mere 76 bookings have been made through Match, while Sanparks has agreed to have 30% of its inventory marketed for the World Cup. Sanparks released more than 9 000 room nights, previously reserved for Match, in December, with an additional 14 731 room nights released a few weeks ago to the general republic. Economists warn that people will not make a lot of money during the World Cup, with many local and international visitors who would normally be travelling during June and July preferring to stay at home due to the higher costs of transport and accommodation. This has been the case in other countries during major sporting events, most notably the Athens Olympics in 2004.
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