Equestrian sports have played a critical role in the growth and development of Cape Town’s tourism sector.
The equestrian activities in the city consist of many different events such as polo, horse racing and horse jumping, to name a few. These sports also have a substantial impact on jobs and income. Like any other business, the equestrian industry makes a variety of input purchases that translate into flow of funds throughout the local economy. The indirect and induced effects of the equestrian industry work through numerous other sectors within the local economy and contribute to the Cape’s economic growth and development.
The Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo support the local economy
Popular amongst tourists, the summer period in Cape Town starts from November to March. One of the Cape’s premier equestrian events is the annual Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo, an afternoon to enjoy the finer things in life during the South African summer season.
While South Africa's visa rules were initially seen as a barrier to entry, affecting visitor numbers to South Africa overall, changes announced by the government to amend certain requirements for tourists from certain countries has been welcome news and is impacting tourism positively, according to the Western Cape Government.
According to SA government, the inflow of tourists to South Africa is the result of the success of policies aimed at entrenching South Africa’s status as a major international tourism and business events destination. As the ‘king of sports,’ as it is dubbed worldwide, polo is unique in terms of the platform it provides and it's blend of upper middle class and HNW (high net worth) attendees and polo aficionados. It is extremely social and one does not need to have a thorough understanding of the nuances of the sport to really enjoy the action and the event itself.
Making Polo accessible yet retaining its exclusivity
With ticket pricing set between R850 and R4,000 the event draws well-heeled locals and internationals boosting the economy. In an attempt to make the event accessible to an aspirational audience, there’s a picnic area which offers access to a grass picnic area adjacent to the main pavilion, at R200 per person. These world-class events drive direct and indirect employment spanning across industries like hospitality, training, administration, eventing, marketing, security and catering.
“Polo events such as the Veuve Clicquot Masters is also the perfect platform to showcase the best that South Africa has to offer – proving that it can produce a world-class event that can compete on the international stage. It sends out a positive message about South Africa rather than the usual negative reporting which we so often see on the international broadcast networks,” adds VIVIDLUXURY’s CEO Anina Malherbe-Lan, one of the event co-founders.
Tourism activity brings about a wide variety of benefits to the city’s economy such as tax revenues from travel-related expenditures and new employment opportunities. When national and international visitors arrive in Cape Town, they spend money on goods and services from the local businesses. Industries such as the hospitality and retail industry benefit directly from tourism. One in 10 employees in the Western Cape earns a living in the tourism industry, and it contributes more than R25 billion to the provincial economy. Over the past several decades, tourism in Cape Town has been rapidly increasing and this growth can be related to the boom in the equestrian industry.
Val de Vie Estate, a polo and wine estate tucked in the mountainous Paarl/Franschhoek valley, is home to this champagne and polo event that is celebrating its 6th year. It is one of the most spectacular polo estates in the world. Their passion for the sport has transformed the estate into an unrivalled polo destination. Cape Town Tourism also endorses this event as one of the must do things in Cape Town this March and it deserves to be on any visitor’s must-see list.
The sport of polo gaining traction in SA
The equestrian industry is bringing more and more people in for riding and polo lessons, to shop, to buy horses, and to attend polo and other equestrian events. According to Brand South Africa more than 10% of foreign tourists come to South Africa to watch or participate in sport events, with spectators accounting for 60% to 80% of these arrivals. “Polo events is the latest trend when it comes to business networking (deal making) platforms for South Africa’s corporate elite and also attracts international investment” adds event co-owner and Val de Vie Events MD, Simone de Wet.
Apart from it being a 12-goal polo tournament, what also sets the day apart is the interpretation of classy (with a bit of fun) through fashion. Inspired by the champagne brand’s bright and bold Yellow Label, the dress code for the 2016 Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo is Polo Chic in bright & bold.
Events like these showcase the country in a positive light when competing for foreign direct investment and provides great PR for Cape Town and South Africa as a whole. It even attracts attendance from top international media through close partnerships with South African Tourism.