Tourism businesses in Durban are bracing themselves for the city’s single biggest weekend of the year as tens of thousands of racing fans and socialites converge on the city for the 120th running of the Vodacom Durban July, triggering an economic boom that will top R450 million.
Phillip Sithole, Durban Tourism’s Head of Business Support, Tourism and Markets pointed out that the annual raceday creates 940 temporary or long term jobs and has tills ringing across the city, from hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, to restaurants and pubs, as well as the transport and entertainment sectors, contributing over R370 million in direct spend in the city on the weekend of the Vodacom Durban July. In addition, betting alone accounts for over R100 million on the day.
Last year visitors from Gauteng outnumbered the local fans at Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, bringing with them the increasing spend on travel, tourism and hospitality in the region.
Sithole says sport tourism is one of the fastest growing areas of the global travel and tourism industry, linking the hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism networks, which spotlight the interplay between these markets and the economies of the driving cities.
“The Vodacom Durban July promotes Durban and KwaZulu-Natal as a premier event destination not only in South Africa, but globally as well,” says Sithole.
“The Vodacom Durban July has been one of South Africa’s most revered sporting events. It’s a highlight for South Africans and overseas visitors, who flock to the Greyville Racecourse to witness what has become known as “Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event.
“It is so much more than sport – it is also a glamorous social get together and fashion spectacle.
“Sporting events of this magnitude mobilise visitors – both domestic and foreign, increase the economic spin-offs for the city and creates jobs.
“Durban Tourism leverages off events such this to bring focus to the city’s townships, providing jobs, increasing sales of business within the townships, introducing both domestic and foreign tourists to our unique products within the township and exposing the township community to the creative class,” said Sithole.
Sithole predicts that this year’s Vodacom Durban July promises to be even bigger and better than the past year or two.
“The theme for this year’s Vodacom Durban July “Leader of the Pack” is an apt one for Durban as only a leading city is able to manage the logistics, planning and organising of a plethora of events and activities called the “July Fever Weekend”.
“The City will be abuzz with pre events, ranging from the big pool party at Ushaka Marine World to events in the townships like Eyadini and Max Lifestyle Restaurant in Umlazi to Artizen Restaurant and Lounge in Inanda.
“Then on the 2nd of July, after the Vodacom Durban July, the City will take visitors on an unforgettable journey, experiencing the glitz, glamour and celebrations that only Durban can offer – with after parties such as the Mother of all Parties and Fact Durban Rocks.
“The line- up of both concerts include international artists such as Chris Brown and local artists such as AKA, Micasa, Shekinah, Kwesta and many more,” he added.