Who says that big events in Durban don’t get sold out? The 4 000 highest-priced platinum tickets offered for the Top Gear Festival in Durban in June are already sold out.

James Cooke Priest, operations chief of Top Gear Live events, said more than 17 000 tickets had already been sold, including all platinum tickets.

He was speaking at a Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry function on plans and business opportunities offered by the motoring spectacular on Tuesday.

“We’ve had a fantastic response, especially considering we have hardly scratched the surface in terms of marketing the festival yet. The fact that platinum tickets are sold out and we’ve already sold over 17 000 tickets demonstrates that there are many people who are fully behind this event,” said Priest.

He said with more than three months to go, early indications were that the motoring festival would be successful in Durban.

“A new trend is emerging here with ticket sales going incredibly well in South Africa, a country which is known for people who buy tickets for big events at the last minute,” said Priest.

Festival director James Graham said while higher priced hospitality packages were still available, the more than 4 000 platinum tickets costing R995 each were sold out.

“We are targeting between 60 000 to 70 000 motoring fans to attend the event. Gold tickets make up about 75 percent of the tickets for the festival and are also selling very well. We are spending R1.2 million on a marketing and PR campaign, which is focused on promoting Durban and KZN as a destination and host of the festival. We are only expected to start marketing the festival after Easter. Marketing will go into top gear in the month before the event. We are therefore thrilled at the huge early demand for tickets,” said Graham.

He said the festival would be a massive event in and around the Moses Mabhida Stadium, with business opportunities and economic spin-offs for Durban.

“This event is not just about the stadium show presented by the Top Gear hosts. We have a 2km street circuit, off-road track, biking stunts area, motoring exhibition, hospitality area, automotive conference and a dinner honouring a motoring legend.

“It will be a day-long event over two days,” said Graham.

“We have signed a three-year agreement (to host the festival in Durban) with the city, but we want to build this into a major annual event for Durban. We are talking to a number of F1 teams to come here and set a few world records at the festival. With all this happening, there are various business opportunities. One example is that we have to ship up to 15 containers from London to Durban for the event,” he added.

Durban Chamber CEO Andrew Layman said: “When it was first announced that Top Gear was coming to Durban, there was an uproar from some Durbanites that the R31 million being spent was a waste of taxpayers’ money. However, as more information is revealed, the economic benefits will be seen… It is a wonderful event for Durban and we fully support it.” - The Mercury