Five reasons to host your event on the N3 Gateway

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Five reasons to host your event on the N3 Gateway

In June, I facilitated the 6th annual Responsible Tourism Dialogue, which is held in Tshwane every year as part of Sustainability Week.  The four main topics that were covered included:

  • Agritourism as a tourism development opportunity (Jaqui Taylor from Agritourism South Africa)
  • The local economic impacts of events (Richard Wyllie from TKZN)
  • The role of tourism associations in sustainable tourism development (Niki Glen from STPP and N3 Gateway)
  • The triple bottom line impacts of sustainable business practices (Maresa Pretorius from Hotel Verde and Janette Horn from Sun International).

Last month, I gave a short overview of Agritourism.  This month, I will discuss the opportunities that events bring to a destination, based on Richard Wyllie’s presentation and my own experience.

Splashy Fen image: Al Nicoll

KwaZulu Natal hosts several world class events annually. Larger events attract participants and spectators mostly from outside of the local area – i.e. tourists, and therefore have positives spin-offs for many local busineses. The province’s four largest annual events are the Midmar Mile (February), the Dusi Canoe Marathon (February), the Comrades Marathon (May/June) and the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic (October).  Some of the benefits and requirements of successful annual events are discussed below:

Economic Benefit

The four events mentioned, collectively had a direct economic impact of R705.5million, the biggest contributor being the comrades, which accounted for R605 million.  It is therefore clear that a once-off event can bring a large cash injection into the local economy.


Events can significantly contribute to alleviating pressure on tourism businesses if they are planned to happen outside of peak seasons.  The events highlighted below collectively attracted more than 140,000 people who would not otherwise have travelled to the relevant destination.

Destination Branding and Marketing

Events can aid in branding and marketing of a destination. The various events mentioned have become synonymous with the cities / regions that host them.  As an example, the Comrades Marathon is strongly associated with Durban and Pietermaritzburg.  Events such as Splashy Fen (Underberg), Karkloof Classic (Howick) and Talana Live (Dundee) become synonymous to the towns where they are hosted.  While events may initially attract tourists to a destination for a reason, but they may become repeat customers if they were attracted to the destination while participating in the event.

Stage 6 of the 2013 Old Mutual Joberg2C Mountain Bike stage race from Kamberg to Underberg, South Africa on the 1st May 2013
Photo by Kelvin Trautman

Destination Competitiveness

Events increase the competitiveness of a destination.  A destination can only host annual events successfully if it is able to provide the right products and service mix to ensure all aspects of the event are successful. They therefore also contribute to tourism growth and development while creating a number of economic spin-offs e.g. additional jobs and innovative new ventures.

Destination Competitiveness

The collective direct economic impact of the four events is more than R705.5 million (Comrades alone contributes more than R605 million of this). Many events, including the ones mentioned, spread benefits across multiple municipalities, as travellers have to travel either by road or air to get to the event destination. In addition, services such as accommodation need to be supplied by neighbouring towns to deal with demand during the event.  Events leave a legacy within the local region as locals continue to benefit from the tourism capacity that caters for the event.

It is therefore clear that events can positively impact the long-term sustainability of destinations.  If your destination possesses a unique quality or has a unique attraction, an annual event can be a good means of stimulating interest in the area and creating repetitive tourism.   Many different stakeholders will benefit from such events, including accommodation providers, restaurants, tour operators, other tourism attractions in the area (e.g. arts and craft shops, museums).  While the negative impacts of events must not be ignored, the positive impacts can far outweigh the negative impacts if they are appropriately planned for and managed.

Royal Drakensberg Primary School Big 5 Hike Fundraiser Image: Grant Pitcher

TKZN regularly performs impact assessment of events across Kwa-Zulu Natal.  Should you be interested in inviting the team to do an assessment of your local events, please contact Richard Wyllie at


Lori Voss

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