World Cup Downhill Champs: Local star wins

2009-04-12 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG is now firmly on the map as a premier host city of niche national and international sporting events following the successful conclusion of the Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, which pumped more than R12 million into the local economy.

B&Bs, restaurants and even farmers benefited from the event.

The owner of Coffeeberry Café at Cascades, Con Malherbe, said sales over the first seven days of April, compared with the same period last year, have doubled.

“An event of this magnitude has an impact across the board and in the most unexpected places. For example, one of my local customers, a farmer from the Lions River area, said he benefited from the event, as he has supplied the hay bales for the downhill riders to sit on when they are being transported by vehicle to the start of the downhill run in Hilton.”

The owner of Malato B&B in Fairmead, Makie Kortjass, told The Witness that her B&B played host to seven guests from France and the Czech Republic, including five cyclists.

“I’ve definitely benefited financially from the event,” she said.

James Mbanjwa, conference manager at Redlands Hotel, said they hosted 20 visitors, mainly from Europe.

“There have been unbelievable spin-offs. It’s been a good experience, especially for marketing Redlands [overseas],” Mbanjwa said.

The event is the first of a series of international cycling competitions in the city over the next three years.

Melanie Veness, director of Pietermaritzburg Tourism, said that apart from the direct spend, the extensive local and global media coverage has placed Pietermaritzburg in the global spotlight.

This coverage includes live and recorded international television shows broadcast in 58 television territories across the globe.

Media and PR manager for the event, Sean Badenhorst, told The Witness that the average length of stay per visitor was about six days, and that more than 700 competitors from 35 countries were in the city for the event.

In addition, more than 350 support staff — including mechanics, managers and masseuses — as well as 50 international media representatives and 50 international sponsors and officials joined local spectators in the city.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Andrew Layman said the image of the city benefits from such events.

“Many will be hearing of our city for the first time and after they have seen the BMX World Cup event in August this year, and the international events which will follow in both disciplines in 2010 and 2011, they will be left in no doubt about Pietermaritzburg’s profile as the provincial capital and the city that has accommodated such prestigious events,” Layman told The Witness.

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