In The Spotlight:

Preparing for the World Cup

African Travel Inc. has options for those aiming to make the trek to South Africa.

May 03, 2010|By Michael j. Arvizu

For the local soccer fan, the World Cup tournament — hosted in a nation half a world away — can seem like a daunting, if not financially impossible, must-see event.

But local travel agents say the steep price tags to South Africa of just a few months ago have dropped significantly, putting the world sporting event within reach of those die-hard fans who want to experience the field through more than just a flat screen.

Travelers today can expect to pay around $1,650 for a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Johannesburg, compared with $3,000 about three months ago, said Dave Herbert, managing director of Glendale-based African Travel. The total price for a trip booked would now be about $5,000, including airfare, accommodations, transportation, game tickets and meals, he added.


“I think it’s opened up,” Herbert said. “I think a lot more people should be encouraged to go.”

The lower price points also mean those who would have had to scrape by could now enjoy a more lavish trip.

“If someone wants to spend $6,000, they can have the trip of a lifetime,” said African Travel client Jack Youredjian. “Right now, it’s going to be crazy there. The only reason you would be going is if you were a soccer nut.”

African Travel, at 1100 E. Broadway, is an official package distributor for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which starts June 11.

FIFA selected Zurich-based MATCH Services to provide ticketing, accommodation, event and technology services for this year’s World Cup. While African Travel expressed interest in becoming an official distributor when the first phase of ticket sales began in early 2009, the company declined to participate, even after it was invited by MATCH Services to apply to become one of the official ticket agents.

“We looked at it?.?.?.?I certainly got the impression that it was going to be very expensive for people to go and visit,” Herbert said. “I didn’t think that was going to be successful.”

The total price for a World Cup trip booked last year would have cost about $8,000 to $10,000, which included airfare, accommodations, transportation, game tickets and meals.

The steep prices, he said, were largely as a result of hotel and travel proprietors increasing prices for the big event.

“I remember when the Olympics were here in L.A., the hotels did not jack up the prices,” said Connie Ebright, owner of Glendale-based Ebright Travel who is also an African safari specialist.

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