Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng
Durban - Beyond the glitz and glamour, the Vodacom Durban July injects millions of rand into the local economy while helping to create and sustain thousands of jobs.

Speaking to The Mercury this week, Gold Circle chairperson Phumla Mnganga said the Durban July continued to grow, adding that it “just gets bigger and bigger every year”.

“There are many people interested in participating in the July in many forms and shapes. Every year we just see increased interest and desire to participate, which to us is fantastic,” she said.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Economic Development spokesperson, Bongani Tembe, said the Vodacom Durban July injected R260million into the KZN economy last year.

A socio-economic impact survey, conducted by Grant Thornton on behalf of eThekwini Municipality, revealed that last year’s event had contributed R159.8m to the city’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“The combined direct spend of all visitors to the event and the event organisers and government was R94.9m,” states the report.

Mnganga attributed the continued success of the VDJ to the bouquet of features, from music to fashion, which offer a complete experience.

“This is one event that brings all races and classes together, because it is not only the rich that come to the July. There are people who also watch the event from home. It is something we have worked hard on. It is not something that happened by accident,” Mnganga said.

She said the event had contributed to putting the country’s horse-racing industry on the international map.

Mnganga said about 100 media organisations attended the event each year, offering micro and macro-economic benefits.

“Those media channels come in earlier and look at the entire value chain of the horse. They don’t just come to the July, the event. We take them to the Midlands, for example, and we show them where the horse is bred, etc.

“We are then able to sell our horse-racing internationally.”

Mnganga said the event also created a number of opportunities for entrepreneurs in and around Durban and she encouraged more to come on board.

“If you are an entrepreneur, you should be asking yourself what should I do as part of this event? If you are a tech entrepreneur, you should say what should I do how many wonderful apps can you have around the July?”

One such entrepreneur is Jabulani Zama of the popular Eyadini Lounge in uMlazi, whose marquee is one of the most sought-after party venues, while his establishment in uMlazi also welcomes thousands of patrons over the VDJ weekend.

The survey revealed that 12% of the visitors who flocked to the city for the July had also visited Eyadini. This was based on 101 visitor surveys conducted.

Zama, owner of the popular establishment, said he was expecting about 13000 patrons to visit his restaurant over the Durban July weekend. He would need to employ an additional 320 staff, including security guards, waiters and car guards.

“The July weekend is definitely the biggest for us because we get a lot of patrons coming from outside the province,” Zama said, adding that he has events planned from Thursday to Monday for the July weekend.

The survey shows that 72% of visitors came from Gauteng and 40%of them were young people between the ages of 25 to 34.

During their stay in the city, they also visited other attractions such as casinos, the beach, uShaka Marine World, the Moses Mabhida Stadium and natural attractions.

The event also creates employment, with Gold Circle hiring 800 young people especially for the event.

“We train those people from February to July and we absorb those we can. But even those we release have got a skill that relates to hospitality. That allows them to work at a hotel or casino,” Mnganga said.

The event has also created a platform for young designers to showcase their talents.

Building on previous successes, as organisers, they try to improve the standard each time, Mnganga said.

The Mercury