Amashova has become a catalyst for economic growth in the province.
The Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic began in 1986 and has been successfully taking place for the past 30 years – making it SA’s oldest ‘classic’ cycling race. The idea of having a bicycle race on the route of the world famous Comrades Marathon was the dream of veteran Springbok Cyclist, Dave Wiseman and his friend Tony McMillian. Over the years the improvements on the route and road closures, accompanied by a steady increase of entries year after year and the involvement of some of the country’s top sponsors has helped make the ‘Shova’ one of the most loved and KZN’s biggest cycling race.
A study recently conducted by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) on the economic impacts of the 2016 Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic revealed that up to R93,2million was injected into KZN’s coffers during the race period. Race organiser Annie Batchelder says, “The race continues to grow in appeal and popularity every year and we are proud that it has become a catalyst for economic growth in the province.”
The iconic cycle race which is now in its 31st year follows the challenging but picturesque Comrades Marathon route from Pietermaritzburg to Suncoast Casino Hotels & Entertainment on Durban’s magnificent beachfront. TKZN conducts regular event impact assessments annually to determine, among other things, the profile of people attracted to the cities and their economic spend.
Since its humble beginnings in 1986 where it hosted just 180 riders, the Amashova has grown exponentially over the years and now hosts over 10,000 riders on race day. “This amount of people has a profound impact on the areas in which we operate,” says race organiser, Annie Batchelder.
In 2016, the Amashova attracted approximately 207 international participants with 59% of the people interviewed coming from outside KZN. The race saw people from countries such as the UK, Czech Republic, Australia and Canada. From Africa, cyclists came from the Seychelles, Mozambique, Namibia and others. There was a 19% increase in visitors from Gauteng and the study also revealed that most visitors stayed two nights or more. The average spend of non KZN residents was approximately R5000 during the race period with the total economic impact estimated up to R93,2million.
Commenting on the impact that the Amashova cycle race has on KZN’s economy, TKZN CEO Mr Ndabo Khoza said “This event generates close to R100 million for the economy of the province, which makes this one of our flagship events. We would like to see the event grow from strength to strength and attract more international participants in the future.”
Khoza added that events of such magnitude assist in addressing seasonality and getting people that wouldn’t otherwise take a trip at this time of the year to come to the province. Hotels between Durban and Pietermaritzburg as a result enjoy high occupancies during this normally ‘quiet’ time. This enables
the province to build a lucrative tourism sector that will continue to create sustainable jobs for the people of KZN.
“In addition, we always encourage participants to take time before or after the race to enjoy some of our other tourism offerings and create long lasting memories for them and their loved ones,” concluded Khoza.