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19 June 2012

“Astonishing” Durban wows Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson

UK motoring show host blown away by the fans, the stadium and the country that brought Top Gear, the popular British motoring show that is watched by millions in 198 countries, its biggest live audience yet.

The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

The River Aquarama, The Eagle Speedster. The Humber Bridge. The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. These are the four best looking man made things in the world. Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear presenter, via Twitter

South Africa’s tropical coastal city of Durban and its spectacular Moses Mabhida stadium provided Top Gear with the perfect backdrop for its biggest live show yet. A total of 67 000 people visited the venue over the two days to be entertained by supercars, stunts, pyrotechnics and the hair-raising antics of the Top Gear trio, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

“South Africa is amazing. This show in Durban will go down as one of our best Top Gear live events ever. That’s because this is our first ever show in a stadium and our biggest live audience yet,” said Jeremy Clarkson.

Since 2008 Top Gear Live events have played to over 1.2m people in 17 different cities and 12 different countries including South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, Russia and Holland.

But it was more than the size of the audience that had Clarkson gushing. The venue for the four live stadium shows (15 and 16 June), Moses Mabhida stadium, which was built to host the semi-final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, clearly impressed the host.

“Durban is an astonishing city and Moses Mabhida is an amazing stadium... I have never seen anything like this in the world,” Clarkson said at a tribute dinner honouring Durban-born former McLaren F1 car designer Gordon Murray.

The stadium, with its iconic 350m long arch, the longest spanning arch of any stadium in the world, is not just a sporting and events venue, but a popular tourist attraction, too. A sky car takes visitors up to the arch’s highest point at 106m, where they can get out and enjoy uninterrupted views of Durban’s famed Golden Mile, which boasts some of the world’s best surf and a newly upgraded beach promenade, the best place to get a taste of this colourful, multi-cultural, Indian Ocean city.

For the more energetic there is 500 step adventure walk up one of the southern legs of the arch, while thrill seekers can take the plunge on the largest swing of any kind in the world, the Big Rush Big Swing, which swings out in a huge 220 metre arc under the arch. A visitor’s centre and tours of the stadium also offer visitors the opportunity to find out more about what makes the stadium so unique.

“The River Aquarama, The Eagle Speedster. The Humber Bridge. The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. These are the four best looking man made things in the world,” Clarkson tweeted to his 326 300 followers after the Top Gear show.

It wasn’t just the stadium that blew Clarkson away. He loved the people, too.

“You’ve got to be, without doubt, the best fans in the world,” Clarkson said to the audience at one of the live shows inside the stadium.

KwaZulu-Natal province and the City of Durban have signed a partnership with the Top Gear Festival to bring the show to the Moses Mabhida Stadium for three years. Both the organisers and the city have declared the festival a huge success and fans can expect an even more spectacular event next year.

Durban is predicted to be the fastest growing tourism city in the Middle East and Africa in 2012, according to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index, released on 11 June. The index which analyses visitor traffic and cross-border travel spend in 132 cities around the globe also predicted Durban to be the second fastest growing city globally, albeit off a low base.

The report predicts a 33.3% growth in international visitors for Durban in 2012 and a 41.3% growth in expenditure. Starting this month, Emirates Airlines has increased its capacity on its Dubai-Durban route by 30% in direct response to increased passenger demand on this route, proof of Durban’s growing international popularity.

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For further information contact:

Jermaine Craig at South African Tourism

Tel: +27 11 895 3000 or 083 2010 121

Email: jermaine@southafrica.net

Website www.southafrica.net

Inquiries at Ireland/Davenport can be directed to:

Allison MacDonald at Ireland Davenport

Tel: +27 11 463 2252 or 082 771 2541.

Email: Allison.macdonald@ireland-davenport.co.za

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South African Tourism is the national tourism agency responsible for the marketing of South Africa as a preferred tourist destination. It is headed up by Chief Executive Officer, Mr Thulani Nzima, Chief Operating Officer Mr Timothy Scholtz and Chief Marketing Officer, Ms Roshene Singh.