Model Jessica Sole with Durban July favourite Jackson.Picture:Zanele Zulu,20/06/2012

Time was when the famous Vodacom Durban July was seen as purely a KZN local event – but those days are well and truly over, organisers say.

For with just days to go before Africa’s premier R3 million race, and with the excitement mounting, ticket sales for this year’s race have been brisk and there has been a strong demand for tickets outside the province.

“Last year a larger proportion of the spectators were from outside the province and from Joburg in particular,” Gold Circle’s event manager Ken Tweddell said.

“And judging by the level of enthusiasm we are seeing on the event Facebook page and to courier tickets to people unable to get tickets directly from Greyville racecourse, there is every reason to believe that there will be an even bigger turnout of racing fans from Gauteng this year,” he said.

Tourism guru James Seymour said research by Tourism KZN had shown that while the bulk of visitors were from KZN, about 42 percent were out-of-towners, with the core source of 16 percent from Gauteng, and the next source being spectators from the Western Cape.

He was not surprised to hear that there appeared to be an increase in interest from out-of-towners.

“It is a great corporate day and weekend where companies spoil their loyal clients,” he said.

Mike Holmes of the hospitality co-ordinators, Event World, responsible for the famous Tent Town, said the demand for marquee hospitality and picnic sites had also grown as people now considered the race a national icon event, not just a local one.

“It is really encouraging to see that, despite the seriously tough economic times, the demand for the Vodacom Durban July has not been adversely affected.

“Durban has had a spate of major events in recent weeks from rugby Test matches to the Top Gear festival, and yet we see that the Vodacom Durban July is still a must-see event,” he said.

The standard of hospitality on offer was also higher than in previous years, he added.

Tent Town was a hive of activity yesterday as trucks and vans arrived with an assortment of equipment in preparation for the big day.

Toilets, refrigerators, furniture, lighting, air conditioners, draping and flowers will follow.

The last of the infield parking on the golf course has already sold out, further reinforcing the organisers’ belief that the demand for the 116th running is at an all-time high.

Gold Circle is encouraging people to take advantage of the new Park and Ride option that will allow them to park at the old Durban Drive-In site and be bused to the racecourse.

It also reminds people that everyone entering the racecourse on Saturday has to have a ticket, even though they might have an entrance ticket to a hospitality marquee or picnic site.

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