As the organisers of the events that make up the FNB Drak Adventure Weekend in Underberg from 1 to 2 February, local businesses say the weekend highlights the critical role that sports tourism plays to the regional economy.

Last year the event brought around R2,2 million in direct investment into the local economy, with a consequential economic impact of over R4,2 million.

Statistics gleaned from a survey conducted by Tourism KZN at last year’s event that drew participants to the N3TC Drak Challenge in partnership with FNB canoe marathon, the Euro Steel Drak Descent and the Euro Steel Run The Rivers Trail Run revealed that 20% of the visitors that packed in the town on the weekend came from outside of the province.

FNB backed the initiative to pull the three sporting events together with the Saturday night concert, as Underberg is a vital cog in the extensive Southern Drakensberg and East Griqualand agricultural community, and the four successful events showcase the attractions of the regions and bring visitors into direct contact with the local businesses.

Local self-catering and B&B accommodation was sold out and the supermarkets, pubs and restaurants all did a roaring trade.

Sam Knox, who owns the SuperSpar in Underberg is quick to identify the FNB Drak Adventure Weekend as one of the biggest turnover weekends for the town.

“We are very busy over the Drak weekend with the influx of athlete and visitors,” said Knox, who added that a sizeable portion of their business was from members of the local community that attended the event or were servicing the three sporting events and the concert.

Over 70% of the visitors to the town booked paid accommodation for the weekend, with 84% of the visitors spending two or more nights in the local hostelry, and spending an average of R 4 451 on accommodation, food and beverages, travel, entertainment, event entry fees and buying gifts and souvenirs.

Almost a third were first time visitors, and encouragingly for the organisers of the weekend, 78% rated their experience as excellent and a further 21%, with almost all the respondents indicating that they would return the event again in the near future.

“Event tourism is crucial to this region,” said Thorsten Gopp, the chairman of the Southern Drakensberg Tourism organisation.

“In this region we have agriculture and tourism, and events like this are critical to the businesses that run in the area.

“It has a direct knock on effect for all the businesses in town as well. The accommodation establishments spend more money at businesses in town to cater for the increased demand,” he explained.

“These busy event weekends really do hold the whole town together.” he said.

“The FNB Drak Adventure Weekend, like many other properties we support, affords FNB the opportunity to connect with our clients and the broader sporting community through rich experiences,” said Asheen Magjee, the Regional Head FNB Business in Kwazulu-Natal.

“The community of Underberg is one such community, an area primarily known for its activities as well as adventure and is considered a haven for nature lovers.

“We envisage the Drak Adventure Weekend drawing families from different areas, to experience the Underberg and stimulate tourism in the area.

“This event is truly a one stop weekend event that attracts people with so many interests ranging from trail running, cycling, paddling and combines a music festival celebrating local talent.

“FNB considers it a privilege to have served the community over the years and what better way to strengthen this relationship than through a weekend filled with adventure? We understand the importance of balancing one’s sporting interests along with family time, this collaboration was most ideal to support the FNB Drak Adventure Weekend as it brings the two together.,” he added.

Fast Facts
FNB Drak Adventure Weekend 2019
Visitors to the region: 2195
Athletes taking part in events : 1361

Duration of visit
1 night 15,7%
2 nights 76,3%
3 nights 8%

Accommodation choices
Self-catering 27,8%
Stayed with friends 27,1%
Bed and Breakfast 15,8%
Camping 11,3%
Hotel 9%
Farm stays 3%
Luxury hotel 3%

Attending the FNB Drak Music Experience concert:
69% weekend visitors
6% day visitors
25% locals

Visitors by province:
KwaZulu-Natal 80%
Gauteng 11%
Eastern Cape 6%
Western Cape 2%
Mpumalanga 1%