A thundering tourism success

2011-05-02 00:00

BIKERS in their thousands prepared to ride off into the sunset from Margate yesterday as Bike Week eased off the gas.

Organiser of the event Martin Engelbrecht said that it’s seldom he uses a difficult English word, being an Afrikaner — but he had to say he was ”flabbergasted” by the response to the week’s festivity.

Last year more than 12 000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 80 000 enthusiasts congregated in Margate over the four days. This year saw a notable improvement.

“We exceeded all expectations — an official count of over 180 000 people and 20 280 motorcycles. We rocked Margate,” Engelbrecht said.

And it would seem they certainly did. Sponsors were apparently “over the moon” with the business run-off, and local businesses turned over money that would normally take several months, according to an exuberant Engelbrecht.

Yesterday just over 2 000 bikers went on the mass ride from Margate to Port Shepstone in an exhibition of camaraderie.

Men and women from all walks of life — professionsals in the medical, legal and engineering fraternities, artisans young and old — all rode out as equals — something Engelbrecht said defines the lifestyle of the bikers, and was something everyone should take a lesson from.

“Bike Week has done for Margate and Kwazulu-Natal what few initiatives can do, and it’s thanks to the local government at Ugu and Hibiscus who really came to the party,” he said.

A partnership has been struck between the Hibiscus Coast Municipality, the Ugu District Municipality, Ugu South Coast Tourism and Harley Davidson that will see Africa Bike Week remain on the South Coast for the next five years.

“With superb weather yesterday it seemed that the crowds were reluctant to leave, and it’s likely businesses will continue to thrive over the next week, so it’s a time to balance the books and turn over enough to sustain businesses for longer,” Engelbrecht said.

The week was incident-free, he said, with security being exceptionally tight, and he took his helmet off to a well behaved crowd.

“It was a family affair and it stayed that way.

This will further ensure a bigger crowd at our next meet.”

Harley Davidson made its presence felt at Bike Week, with the brand being the dominant one at the festivities.

“Harley Davidson takes South Africa very seriously. Bike Week set the standard for excellence, and it has not gone unnoticed,” he said.

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