All dolled up for the Durban July: Mello Mdluli (wearing an outfit by Treasure Cindi), Nandile Mkhize (Makhosazane Ntshangase), Mathuba Ngcobo (Martin John Steenkamp), Phumla Mtolo (Sibu Msimang) and Charné Leafé (Melinda Corrine) at the Vodacom Durban July Gallops at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse. Picture: Pierre Retief / Gameplan Media
Durban - It’s all systems go as celebrities, politicians, fashionistas and socialites make their way to Durban to party, enjoy fashion and bet on the finest horses during Africa’s greatest horse racing event on Saturday.

The Vodacom Durban July (VDJ) weekend is expected to generate over R200million, with 55 000 people predicted to attend. The projected contribution to the city’s gross domestic product is approximately R380m, according to the Durban Chamber of Commerce.

Phillip Sithole, eThekwini Municipality’s deputy city manager for economic development, said an event of this magnitude raised the city’s profile, creates jobs and was an opportunity for economic growth.

“It must be noted that the economy is not performing well; this event will create temporary jobs. There are also side events which include pre and after parties throughout the city. Townships will also host their own events on Saturday and Sunday,” said Sithole.

Winile Mntungwa, deputy head at Durban Tourism, confirmed that domestic flights and hotels were full to capacity and that some guests would arrive in private jets.

The rich and famous would mainly be staying in high-end establishments which include the Beverly Hills, Oyster Box and The Pearls of uMhlanga flats, Audacia Manor and Quarters Boutique Hotel in Morningside, Maharani and Elangeni hotels along the beachfront, as well as Zimbali Golf estate in Ballito.

“As Durban positions itself as a tourism, sporting and events capital, with our world-class and safety- compliant venue, we are always ready to host such mega events,” she said.

“Activities in the city will definitely boost the local economy as the VDJ is a catalyst for all other events happening in and around the city.”

Raf Sheik, racing executive at Gold Circle, said visitors would be treated to great entertainment and an exciting race, showcasing the country’s best race horses.

“The main stage has been moved to cater for better public viewing. The fashion show normally held on the racetrack has moved to the Parade Ring, where public viewing and access is easier,” said Sheik.

The event will have the same number of marquees as the previous years.

Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad, Metro police spokesperson, said his team had been on this road before and the traffic management plan for next weekend was fail-proof.

“We will have a number of operations around the city which includes roadblocks,” said Sewpersad. “We urge road users to be cautious and patient during the weekend and to expect delays.”

Motorists are encouraged to refrain from leaving valuables visible in their vehicles.

Sunday Tribune