Durban - An estimated R150 million is expected to be injected into the local economy this weekend when a bumper crowd of 50 000 people descend on the Greyville Racecourse for this year's Vodacom Durban July (VDJ).
And KwaZulu-Natal is rolling out the red carpet for international, national and regional visitors headed to Durban for "Africa's greatest horse race".
Zandile Gumede, Durban mayor said the city has pulled all stops to ensure that this years’ event surpasses all expectations.
“In terms of readiness, it is all systems go and we are confident that we will deliver a sterling show. We are also optimistic about the economic prospects of staging what has become one of Africa’s major events. This year we are anticipating that all our hotels and hospitality will be packed and this is expected to make a contribution of no less than R75 million in direct spend alone,” she said.
“What makes us even happier is that most of the side events have been scheduled for our townships and this will enable to give practical expression to the ideals of radical economic transformation, as it directly benefits our people in their communities,” Gumede said.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN), Phindile Makwakwa, said the Vodacom Durban July has become a major flagship event for KZN.
"Over the years, we have seen that a lot of people come a little earlier for the VDJ so they can also bask in the warm weather and enjoy the number of events leading up to the main event on Saturday and then stay a bit longer for some of the post events,” she said.
The events come in the wake of Tourism KZN (TKZN) announcing the introduction of the new Durban direct flight from London by British Airways, which they hope will grow the UK arrivals which is currently the number one key international source market for the province.
“Visitors from Europe can now partake in the lifestyle events in the same way they enjoy the Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival in England – with patrons flying direct in less than 10 hours,” said Makwakwa.
She said that ultimately, TKZN wants to position the VDJ on the same level as other top racing events from all over the world like the Kentucky Derby in the USA, the Melbourne Cup in Australia and the Dubai Cup.
“We will be able to achieve this by attracting international patrons. When we add good tourism spots to visit, good weather and the first world facilities, we are confident that the province can become the playground for tourists from across the globe,” said Makwakwa.
Ken Tweddell, Event Marketing Manager for Gold Circle, said on race day visitors were expected to spend a projected R75 million.
“Betting adds another R100 million – on and at off course totes around the country,” Tweddell said.
Forecasts are that the total contribution made to the province’s economy will be around R159 million added with the creation of 320 jobs.
While international tourist visitor arrivals for July and August last year was 112 000, this year the province is anticipating 125 000 of international arrivals for the same period.
Add to this an average spend of R5 877 per visit expected to rise to R7 700 and that translates into just over R962 million rand into the economy, TKZN said in a statement.