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Hospitality training for locals

The city of Johannesburg is training service station attendants to act as tourist guides during the World Cup, and will reward them with diplomas in tourism awareness.

sports Updated: May 25, 2010 01:43 IST

The city of Johannesburg is training service station attendants to act as tourist guides during the World Cup, and will reward them with diplomas in tourism awareness. South Africa's main commercial city, which struggles with its reputation for violent crime, is hoping visitors will appreciate its attractions _ with the help of the person who fills up your car with gas and checks the oil and water.

Employees at Sasol garages will be sent on a training course, and be able to provide helpful information on places of interest like Nelson Mandela's former home in Soweto, or Constitution Hill in downtown Johannesburg, which celebrates South Africa's new democracy.

“We are delighted to offer this industry-first, value-add service to our customers, both local and foreign, to ensure that they get the most out of their experience of the city of Johannesburg,” Sasol Oil managing director Maurice Radebe said.

The Joburg Tourism company said the two-day training program will include different modules on tourism awareness, cultural diversity and a tour of all the tourist attractions in the city. Johannesburg is the only World Cup host city with two official venues, and will host 15 of the 64 matches, more than any other location, including the opener on June 11 and the July 11 final. Other employees in the country are being asked to wear football shirts to work on Fridays.

South Africa President Jacob Zuma is leading the way, appearing on local television last Friday in a bright yellow national team shirt under his suit jacket. School children are also allowed to celebrate by wearing football-related shirts.

The “Football Friday” initiative is part of the country's now overwhelming obsession with football's biggest tournament. It's not compulsory for the shirt to be South African, with Manchester United and Barcelona meeting Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in workplace meeting rooms, canteens and classrooms across the country.