No threat to prestigious Durban July, says horse racing operator
Gold Circle Racing and Gaming has denied reports that the prestigious Vodacom Durban July (VDJ), scheduled for Saturday, is under threat from possible strike action.
In a statement released this week, the racing authority said: "The Vodacom Durban July race meeting ... is not under threat as erroneously reported on some national news services."
It has predicted that 50,000 patrons will descend on Greyville racecourse for the event.
Gold Circle said as the licensed operator of horse racing in the province, it, not Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, ran the VDJ. The latter is facing possible industrial action.
"The threatened strike action is against Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, who are currently undergoing a restructuring of their business that affects their employees.
"It is all systems go for Saturday. Greyville is decked out in its finest and the weather is set to be fair – a predicted 2°C – for the 50,000 people who are expected on course," said Gold Circle.
Tourism authorities have billed it as a "key horse racing event in the Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) calendar" and, over the years, the VDJ has become a must-attend event of the year with racing enthusiasts, punters, celebrities and media.
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs, estimates that the event will attract more than 40,000 visitors to the province, adding an estimated R300m to its coffers.
TKZN acting CEO Phindile Makwakwa said the authority wanted to grow the event's popularity in Africa.
"It is already very popular with the domestic market and we want to grow it to new heights.
"Africa is a big, key source for us and we want to be more aggressive in positioning KZN as a must-visit tourism destination.
"Our insights show us that this market enjoys such prestigious and glamorous events, and therefore we want to start positioning the VDJ as a pan-African event," she said.
TKZN estimates that at least 20% of the patrons coming to the VDJ will be from outside the province, and hotel occupancy is expected to reach well over the 85% mark.