South Africa Tourism predicts more than half a million visitors will travel to the country during the four weeks of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. And the country has spent four years and $5 billion getting ready for them.

Among the projects timed for the world’s biggest sporting event are a new $1 billion international airport in Durban, six purpose-built venues, and a state-of-the-art commuter train network whose line between Johannesburg center and Johannesburg’s international airport carried its first passengers on June 8. By 2011, the train network will connect South Africa’s commercial hub, Johannesburg, with its political center, Pretoria.

Data from STR Global shows that prior to the start of the tournament and in line with many other parts of the world, South Africa’s revenue per available room had begun an upward trend this year. In a press release, STR Global noted that the long-term influence of the FIFA World Cup on the image and promotion of South Africa to the millions watching on TV should provide a positive boost for future hotel demand as it has for previous host nations.

Aside from complaints about the vuvuzela, a plastic horn blown by thousands of fans throughout the tournament matches, South Africa has met the challenge of hosting the world-class event. (Check out the Daily Mail for extremely comprehensive coverage of the vuvuzela controversy.) The tournament is being played in stadiums across nine host cities, including Cape Town and Durban, which will each host a semi-final match, and Johannesburg, which hosted opening matches and will be the site of the final match.