THE Vodacom Durban July is once again poised to deliver a massive financial contribution of up to R500million for the KwaZulu-Natal economy.
Figures extracted from a comprehensive economic impact study conducted following last year's Vodacom Durban July showed that the event generated expenditure of between R292million and R537million, and all evidence is pointing to similar figures for this year.
"The current economic slump has not affected us," says Perry Moodley, acting chief executive of Durban Tourism. "Last year's Vodacom Durban July saw about R70million to R80million spent directly in the city, and that excludes money generated from betting.
"With this year being seen as the precursor for 2010, and the number of tourists staying in the city because of the British and Irish Lions tour, we are confident that we will break the R100million mark this year," Moodley added.
The survey further revealed that 60percent of the 55000 spectators who will visit Greyville Racecourse on July 4 are likely to be visitors to the city. In total, 26percent of the race day patrons fly into Durban specifically for the event.
This means a huge cash injection for the hospitality industry in the city.
The research showed that out-of-town visitors spent an average of R8333,20 around the event, while the average Durbanite attending the event spent an average of R1300 on the Vodacom Durban July last year.
Combined, this direct spend adds up to as much as R375million. However, the research also showed that this direct spend on the event triggered further immediate economic activity for the region's hospitality industry that catered for the needs of race day patrons, equalling approximately R158million.
The economic churn for KwaZulu-Natal stemming from the Vodacom Durban July could top R537million.
"The Vodacom Durban July has a very positive impact on the hotels and restaurants in Durban," says Fedhasa chairman Gerhard Patzer. "The current economic climate may be restricting individual spending, but it has certainly not affected our luxury hotel bookings."
Moodley agrees. "Hotels and B&Bs in Durban are already 75percent to 80percent booked," he says. "The Vodacom Durban July is a fantastic event. It's slick and sophisticated and very good for Durban's image."
Patzer credits the sponsors for much of the Vodacom Durban July's success. "Since Vodacom became the sponsors eight years ago, we have seen a big improvement," Patzer says. "It shows how the right sponsor can make a difference and how important it is to have the right sponsor."