Egoli set to mine a new gold reef with tourism’s focus on horseracing legacy
A range of efforts are currently being harnessed to unleash the full potential of the city’s legendary Summer Cup, first run in 1887 as the Johannesburg Handicap, by turning it into a top-class international horseracing event with massive benefits for Gauteng’s economy.
Following a recent partnership between the Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) and Phumelela, owner of Turffontein Race Course, the province plans to turn the Cup’s long legacy into a money-spinning mega-event that will see the Sansui Summer Cup (SSC) go head-on with the country’s two top races, the Vodacom Durban July and Cape Town’s J&B Met with the aim of surpassing both over the next five years.
“We believe the country’s leading metropolis should equally host Pan-Africa’s biggest and most spectacular horseracing event,” says Dawn Robertson, Chief Executive Officer of GTA.
This in turn will generate widespread revenue in the province’s travel, accommodation, hospitality and entertainment sectors. The July’s 50 000 visitors netted KwaZulu-Natal R100 million in travel-related revenue in 2010 whilst the Met’s 33 million visitors added R52 million to Cape Town’s fiscus in that year, she cites by way of example.
The SCC, taking place at Turffontein Race Course on Saturday 26 November, is already screened in 22 countries around the world with and estimated global viewership of 10 million people. This year’s projected attendance are currently pegged at 20 000 to 25 000 or double those of 2010. All hospitality offerings were sold out as early as ten days before the event. By 2013 the aim is to have an attendance of at least 60 000, Robertson says.
Taking the event beyond the confines of its traditional demographic and punter support base with what she calls a “massifying strategy,” is critical to this future growth. This will include expanding it into a holistic entertainment experience on the day, as well as creating buzz in the city long before the horses actually line up.
The year’s event will therefore kick off on 23 November with the Rooftop Race Day Charity Auction in aid of SA Racing Trust’s WorkRiders upliftment programme to turn talented work riders into apprentice jockeys presided over by some of the GTA’s celebrity GeePee brand ambassadors.
On the day the Sansui Sound Experience will offer punters non-stop additional entertainment including DJ’s, live music and fashion shows with the cream of Gauteng designers that will go on until the early hours of the following morning.
“The SSC is part of an encompassing vision by the province’s economic strategists to stimulate domestic tourism. It also links up with the ‘I’m a GeePee’ campaign in which citizens of Gauteng Province sign up to promote domestic tourism as a key objective to create new jobs. Every sixteen travellers create one job,” says Gauteng MEC for economic development, Qedani Mahlangu.
The campaign was launched in September this year with some of the province’s favourite personalities such as Danny K and Penny Lebyane signing up as GeePee ambassadors.
Gauteng is not only the country’s economic “engine room” - it also contains a vast tourism showcase ranging from the historic to the natural to the uniquely cultural – a powerful circuit of leisure and pleasure that awaits ignition, says Mahlangu.
Meanwhile Turffontein Racecourse has undergone an extensive makeover. It has an inner and an outer grass track – the old “stand side” track and a new inside track. The parade ring is now situated at the front of the course, which makes viewing the jockeys and horses close-up accessible to everyone. From elevated glass-fronted rooms at the course there is a spectacular view of the track and Johannesburg’s iconic skyline.
Johannesburg is already perceived as an exciting and glamorous destination by many Pan African visitors. It is this new, and potentially infinite, seam of gold in the shape of nuggets of wealthy tourists that GTA is determined to mine with its vision for the Sansui Summer Cup.
Let the race begin.