There’s no tomfoalery here as the Durban July shapes up
It's one of the world's richest race days and an SA social highlight. This is what goes on to make it happen
A 895m², 14-metre high, maxi-dome structure – the first-of-its-kind hospitality venue at the Vodacom Durban July – is likely to steal some thunder away from the pedigree horses, big-name celebs and trend-setting fashionistas on Saturday.
It took three superlink trucks, a 70-ton crane, three forklifts, a crew of 15 riggers and over R500,000 to transport the dome from Johannesburg and then erect it to host Durban Tourism’s 650 guests at the Greyville Racecourse where the fashion, entertainment and racing world will meld for the day.
50,000 people are expected to descend on the course, in the heart of Durban, for the country’s premier racing and social event. It is expected to generate a whopping R160-million for Durban.Sim Tshabalala, head of Black Inc Events, which was tasked to manage various VIP hospitality areas including Durban Tourism’s, said the dome would normally take a week to erect. But it had to done in just three days because the golf course, which is surrounded by the race track, continued to be used in the build-up to the event.
“Then our décor and technical teams will move to complete all preparations by Friday night. The dome is a first for the Vodacom Durban July,” Tshabalala said.
It’s one of the focal points of the marquee village, which will comprise of about 30 specially-constructed stylish hospitality tents, hosting over 13,000 guests.The village will be in addition to the existing hospitality suites in the main grandstand.
“Around 3,500 chefs, waitrons and hospitality staff will man the various hospitality venues, each of which is responsible for its own food, drink, décor and entertainment,” said the event’s spokesperson, Dave Macleod.
Over 30,000 meals are expected to be prepared for the day.
“While Vivian Reddy, who has set the bar high in terms of standards of hospitality at the Vodacom Durban July for a number of years, will be conspicuous by his absence this year, many of the top-end hospitality offerings will aim to set a new notable high for raceday hospitality,” said Macleod.
Event World, which manages the hospitality at the Vodacom Durban July, said there had been a demand at all levels of hospitality on offer – from the elite VVIP lounges to the popular picnic sites.
“We have added new picnic site areas to carter for the demand,” said Event World’s Nellie Mhlongo. “There’s been major increase in demand for the picnic sites over the past two weeks and lots of excitement over the upgraded public area.”When it comes to the economic impact, R160-million is expected to be generated from transport, accommodation, restaurants and hospitality, to fashion and entertainment, according to a survey conducted at last’s Vodacom Durban July. This excludes the millions that are expected to be gambled on the day.
Musa Makhunga, head of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, said: “An event of this nature brings an array of socio-economic benefits to the local economy and, besides the over R150-million injected into the local economy, the event produces annualised employment of 320 [people] and government taxes of R10-million.
“Add to this a spend of around R100-million on betting at both on-course and at off-course totes, and the Vodacom Durban July is responsible for an economic churn of between R250-million and R300-million,” Makhunga said.