Durban - Durban’s hospitality industry is hoping to make progress in its recovery as the spectacular Durban July Handicap horse race at the Greyville racecourse is set for the following weekend.
Numerous businesses stand to gain from the Hollywoodbets Durban July, which will return in full under new sponsors.
The winning horse in the main race will take home a record-breaking R5 million at the event, which is renowned for its upscale attire, elegant hospitality, music and entertainment.
The race organisers, Gold Circle, are optimistic that the event will reclaim its status as the premier horse race with thousands of spectators in attendance.
Stephen Marshall, marketing and events executive for Gold Circle, said with the removal of all Covid-19 restrictions and regulations they look forward to welcoming thousands of horse racing fans to the Greyville racecourse.
He said the Durban July traditionally brought the rainbow nation together in a spirit of goodwill and excitement and, with the support of their new sponsors, this year’s event would be no different.
“The fact that proof of vaccination or negative PCR tests is no longer a requirement for entry to the racecourse is most welcome and a great boost for the event.
“Racegoers can look forward to a great day with a mixture of high-quality thoroughbred horse racing, exciting fashion and contemporary music combining to ensure an incredible sporting and social experience,” he added.
City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said they were pulling out all the stops to ensure that visitors have the best possible Durban July experience.
Mayisela said the city was anticipating an influx of domestic and foreign visitors, with 35 000 spectators expected. With the relaxing of the Covid-19 venue restrictions, the number could increase, he said.
Durban Tourism is anticipating a direct spend of R145 million, and a contribution of R362m to the city’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the event.
The city predicts that the winter season will bring 1 025 000 tourists, with a direct spend of R1.45 billion, and a GDP contribution of R3.6bn.
A 60 percent occupancy rate is anticipated, but this will change with the relaxing of Covid-19 regulations, Mayisela added.
Rosemary Anderson, national chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa), said the lifting of capacity restrictions on conferences, events, exhibitions and musical events would be a major boost for the hospitality industry and would help to get it back on its feet.
“We now have clarity and certainty. We can plan in advance, which is exactly what our industry needs. We’ve got lots of work to do to catch up with all the events and conferences that we lost, especially in the international market,” she said.
“Our industry is resilient and we are determined to try to do that.”
Florida Road was expected to be a hive of festivities, with many restaurants and pubs already advertising their packages on social media. There is also a series of build-up events to the weekend and after-parties that will be attended by artists and socialites from across the country.