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Durban - Next weekend’s Top Gear Festival is expected to rev up the city’s economy by more than R140 million.
Mayor James Nxumalo said on Wednesday this would bring the estimated economic spin-off of the city’s three-year deal to host the motoring extravaganza to nearly R400 million.
Top Gear festival director Kim Renyard confirmed organisers were negotiating with the eThekwini Municipality about staging the event againin 2015.
Renyard and Nxumalo were speaking at a media briefing at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, on how preparations for next weekend’s event were faring.
Renyard has been keeping a close eye as marquees, grandstands and other infrastructure have gone up, and by Wednesday could confidently say: “We are ready.”
She promised ticket holders that this year’s high-octane antics, some of “the most ambitious yet”, would feature brand new stunts and local celebrities.
Vicky St Clair, senior communications manager at Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, pegged the number of visitors attracted to Durban by the festival last year at more than 67 000, many of them from outside the province.
She said the economic impact of the festival was especially impressive because it took place over just two days, and outside the holiday season.
This was part of a concerted effort to draw visitors to KZN throughout the year, and sell it as a destination for weekend visits.
St Clair said while some felt that the festival caused them inconvenience, she countered that it was well worth it when considering the economic benefit for the province.
“IT’S WORTH THE INCONVENIENCE.”
Nxumalo asked that road users co-operate with traffic officials and that Durban residents be kind to tourists.
“Of course, Durban people are warm and beautiful. This was confirmed last year when we were named the friendliest city in South Africa. And do you know CNN recently named our city as the most underrated city in the world? This is in recognition of what Durban has to offer as a tourist and investment destination,” Nxumalo said.
Festival organisers and city traffic officials said they had tried tried to keep road closures to a minimum this year.
From 6pm on Thursday, 19 June until midnight on Sunday 22 June, Masabalala Yengwa (NMR) Avenue and the Snell Parade would be cordoned off. Access to Isiah Ntshangase (Walter Gilbert) Road would be restricted to VIPs and physically challenged persons.
Ticket prices range from R260 to R1995.