A hotel chain at Heathrow Airport has banned all vuvuzelas from the premises, after a resident manager was kept awake by the plastic horns. The firm, Premier Inn, plans to enforce the ban until the end of the World Cup, regardless of whether England is ejected before the tournament’s climax.
The hotel chain was initially unable to stop its guests from playing vuvuzelas, as the firm has no policy regarding the horn, but the hotel’s rules were immediately revised following England’s disappointing clash with Algeria on the 18 June. ‘Guests who bring the horns into our bars will be asked to take them back to their rooms,’ a spokesperson for the chain explained.
A hotel in the northeast was similarly affected during England’s qualifying campaign. Football fans created a trail of noise between Newcastle’s Premier Inn, and pubs and clubs in the centre of the city.
In the space of just a few weeks, vuvuzelas have risen from obscurity to dominate the headlines. The instrument, which was originally used to announce community events in rural Africa, has become a hallmark of the 2010 World Cup, featuring prominently in South African football stadiums.
Very few people have fallen in love with the vuvuzela, however, and supporters and commentators alike have taken umbrage with the horn’s incessant parping. The sound produced by a vuvuzela has been compared to that of a chainsaw – 127 decibels – a full 27 decibels more than the human ear can stand.
Neil van Schalkwyk, the original creator of the plastic horn – or at least, the first person to produce them on such an enormous scale – has now begun selling earplugs to football fans, in a bid to protect tourists from hearing loss. The earplugs, known as ‘vuvuzela unplugged,’ are being sold as the official companion to the instrument.