KwaZulu-Natal welcomes the thousands of competitors including international athletes and swimmers and their supporters who have travelled to the province to participate in the iconic water sports events – the 51st aQuelle Midmar Mile and the Dusi Canoe Marathon. These two events which take place back-to-back from this weekend 8 February and next weekend 15 February provide a multi-million-rand economic boost to the region.

With Valentine’s Day tucked between the two high profile sporting events, the hospitality and tourism industry is anticipating a bumper two weeks for the hospitality and tourism industry in the Umgungundlovu and eThekwini Municipalities.

Based on 2018 research, the last undertaken, the combined economic impact of these two iconic events attracted some 24 000 visitors to the Midlands and injected an estimated R148-million into the regional economy, said Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) Acting CEO Mr. Sibusiso Gumbi.

The research also indicated that 55% of travellers to the Midmar Mile came from KZN, followed by Gauteng with 33%. Most visitors spent an average of two days in the region at local hotels and other accommodation establishments, with 45% opting to stay nearby in Howick, Pietermaritzburg, or in the Midlands.

The Dusi Canoe Marathon, which is the biggest canoeing event on the African continent, and one of the world’s most popular river marathons, attracts between 900 and 1600 paddlers each year and at least 2000 spectators along the route from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

“KZN is globally renowned for hosting world class sporting events which are a key driver for tourism therefore, events like these are important to the growth of the sector. Research insights indicate that sportsmen and women bring their families for support and are likely to add a few days before and after the event to enjoy some of the tourism offerings in the area. Sports travellers are also likely to return to the destination as leisure travellers,” elaborated Gumbi.

The aQuelle Midmar Mile race organisers have confirmed that preparations are all on track for a spectacular event at Midmar Dam and expectations are that entries could meet or exceed last year’s 8500 participants.

Swimmers from 37 countries including 11 African countries will be among the throng of swimmers at the start line of the various race categories.

Also heading back to KZN for the Midmar Mile is AFCON champion and former Bafana Bafana star, Mark Fish who is in Côte d’Ivoire as part of the CAF Technical Study team to analyse the games at the ongoing tournament.

“The atmosphere at the finish line of the Dusi and the Midmar Mile is always electric as participants race for first place urged on by thousands of spectators.

“When the excitement of the races ends, I encourage everyone to visit many of our tourism attractions, such as the Mandela Capture Site, Karkloof Canopy Tours and the Midlands Meander or chill out along the beach front at one of many hotels, restaurants or pubs before heading home with wonderful memories,” concluded Gumbi.

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