The Durban July, South Africa’s internationally renowned horse racing event, returns to full capacity on Saturday (July 2) at the Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse, following the removal of Covid-19 restrictions.
The R5-million record stake event is expected to bring an estimated 35 000 attendees together and is the first July experience to take place post Covid-19 restrictions being lifted.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the city is excited about the anticipated economic spinoff of the event, with attendants expected to spend up to R145 million and economic activity projected at R362 million.
“An estimated 740 people within the tourism and hospitality as well as related value chains will get employment because of this event,” Kaunda added.
Gold Circle’s marketing and events executive Steven Marshall tells Moneyweb the initial plan, prior to the removal of Covid-related restrictions, was to accommodate 27 000 attendees, at 50% capacity.
“It has come as a welcome relief that the horseracing, entertainment, hospitality, and tourism industries can once again benefit from the far-reaching revenues that are generated by the Hollywoodbets Durban July.
“There are many businesses that [were] negatively impacted over the past two years when we held the event behind closed doors,” he adds.
Marshall noted that Gold Circle has scrapped Covid testing and/or required vaccination certificates, which were initially a prerequisite to attending the Durban July event, as they were barriers to entry.
“When we couldn’t have people attend the event, the revenue streams generated from the event and subsequently pushed back into horse racing, were severely impacted,” he says.
Another challenge was keeping the event and sport relevant, because the tangible experience of watching horse racing could not be recreated virtually.
Marshall said the organisation had to think out of the box for the last two years by having virtual parties and supporting the fashion programme in a virtual way on social media. “We’ve been running this event for 26 years without interruption and it is paying dividends now,” he adds.
Kaunda said the event will be extended to five satellite venues, which will retain online betting, fashion and entertainment elements, due to ticket sale restrictions at the main venue.
Meanwhile, eThekwini Municipality says experts in the sector predict that over one million tourists will visit Durban during winter and spend approximately R1.45 billion, contributing R3.6 billion to the GDP.
Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb.