Jeremy Clarkson, looking uncannily like Tickey the Clown doing a lap on his tricycle, salutes an appreciative audience at the Top Gear show in Durban at the weekend. Picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse.

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson clearly has a thing for Durban.

“God, I love being in Durban,” he tweeted to his 1.9 million followers at the weekend during the Top Gear extravaganza.

And, it wasn’t a one-off.

After arriving at the Moses Mabhida Stadium last Thursday, the irreverent Clarkson tweeted: “The greatest stadium in the world. And our home for the next five days.”

By 4pm yesterday his Durban tweet had been re-tweeted 924 times.

EThekwini Speaker Logie Naidoo was delighted.

“Cape Town has the lion’s share of visitors, but this will change when Durban becomes one of the leading tourism cities in the world,” he said.

Phillip Sithole, eThekwini’s head of tourism, said the reason that the city had wanted to host the Top Gear event was to promote Durban as a tourism destination.

“We want to align ourselves with brands that are known globally, like Top Gear,” he said. “If we want to be known as the sports capital we have to host mega events.”

Sithole said that Clarkson himself was a brand and that most of the international tourists who came to the city were from the UK.

“Jeremy has a lot of followers, so being promoted through people like him helps Durban access and cement that market,” he said.

Geoff Paton of the Hardy Boys advertising agency said it was “brilliant” that Clarkson was talking positively about the city but added that Durban had to be marketed consistently.

“It’s good when people say good things about Durban, but we need to sustain it through marketing,” he said. “The council needs to promote the city more and we need more positive media coverage.”

Last night festival director Hannah Cabral sent this comment to The Mercury: “Thank you, Durban! The Top Gear Festival this year has been phenomenal. The shouts of the crowd coming together with the engine roars could be felt throughout the stadium and beyond, creating an incredible energy. It’s been a fantastic event, our best one yet.” - The Mercury