Durban - Love them or hate them, the roaring engines of the BBC’s hit show Top Gear look set to disrupt the peace and cause traffic jams in Durban for another three years.
Yesterday the city’s executive committee took an “in-principle” decision for the municipality to continue hosting the motoring festival, which has put Durban on the map and given it “unprecedented” exposure.
Mayor James Nxumalo said the festival, which took place at the weekend, had drawn a 67 000-strong crowd.
Nxumalo told the committee that he had met Economic Development and Tourism MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu on Friday to discuss the future of the event now that its three-year contract with the city had ended.
“This is good for the city and puts us on the map as the show is watched by millions of people around the world,” he said.
The mayor admitted though that there would be financial implications. Nxumalo said with the previous contract the city had contributed about R12 million a year, over three years, to host the festival.
However, the return on this investment was measured at more than R100m a year.
“We want a win-win situation. Business people do benefit,” he said.
“We will task the city manager and the treasurer to look for the budget for next year because we had not budgeted for it. There are about 10 countries that are looking to host Top Gear.”
Nxumalo said they were expecting feedback from the province on Wednesday.
Deputy mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala said they wanted the relevant officials to prepare a report on the financial implications the city would incur.
“They must also give us assessment reports of the event for the past three years,” she said.
The DA’s Heinz de Boer said that although the city could never buy the kind of publicity it was given from Top Gear, it still needed to know where the money was coming from.
“We also want to know how much of the revenue is from international visitors and how much is local. We will support this event for the next three years, but we should look at the kind of show that is put on because I know that some people were disappointed,” he said.