Big sports cash boost for PMB

2008-02-02 00:00

A sporting extravaganza has descended on Pietermaritzburg — and it may just change the way the provincial capital city does business.

At issue is the economic “beneficiation” of the city’s array of sporting events, which bring in about R100 million over 30 days of canoeing, cycling, swimming and golf.

Following in the wake of the Hansa Powerade Duzi Canoe Marathon, which generated an estimated R30 million according to event organiser Ray de Vries, is the week-long Intaka Tech World’s View Challenge cycling series, starting today.

The KZN under-23 golf championships will see the province’s top young talent in action on February 10, at the newly-refurbished Victoria Country Club.

With points on the KZN Order of Merit at stake, a full field of players with a nine handicap or less, is expected for the Malcolm Holdsworth Cup.

Then, just as the cycling circus rolls out of the city, almost 20 000 swimmers arrive for the Halfway Telkom Midmar Mile next weekend.

Among the swimmers will be 478 girls from the country’s top schools, who are competing in a full aquatic programme at GHS.

“This number does not include the parents and supporters of the girls who will be swimming on the Sunday,” said the head of the GHS physical education department, Bev Shuttleworth.

Still on the water theme, on February 9 the Stihl Non-Stop Dusi will see the country’s leading paddlers attempt to complete the Dusi Canoe Marathon course in one day.

A month’s break will allow the city to take a breather before the national mountain biking championships are staged on March 15 and 16, in an adjudicating event for the staging of a World Cup race in 2009.

On March 23, riders in the inaugural Tour of South Africa will end their tour from Johannesburg in Pietermaritzburg, with five of the eight stages taking place in KZN.

With cycling dominating the events diary, the city’s efforts to position itself as a sports destination are clearly paying off, according to Pietermaritzburg Tourism director Melanie Veness.

“It’s highly gratifying to see the city broadening its reputation as the host city for the Comrades Marathon and Midmar Mile into other sporting disciplines,” she said.

Veness pointed out that while the hospitality industry clearly benefits from the extra trade, other sectors of the city’s economy also derive extra business.

UKZN economist Clive Coetzee concurred, saying that financial beneficiation usually is expressed by its direct, indirect, and induced contribution to a localised economy.

“Simply put, a tourist’s direct spend at a B&B would have an indirect effect in terms of the salaries of staff and an induced impact when staff in turn spend their wages,” he said.

He said economic beneficiation typically is experienced by a series of decreasing waves in what is a classic ripple effect.

“The rule of thumb is that a direct impact normally has four such ripples and that one would calculate beneficiation accordingly,” he said.

Speaking about the Intaka Tech World’s View Challenge, event organiser Alec Lenferna of the Treble Group said a worst case scenario will see a direct spend of about R3 million in hospitality and R7 million in promotion.

“We are expecting better than this of course, and we are looking forward to a great inaugural series,” he said.

The anticipated combined spend also accentuates the intrinsic value of the city, with particular reference to its infrastructure and ability to host events.

“It is clear, therefore, that the maintenance of facilities and management of assets is critical and that without guaranteed minimum conditions for participatory sports, these money-spinning events will migrate elsewhere,” Coetzee said.

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