THOROUGHMEDIA’s Simon Burgess suggests that racing administrators and marketers should be actively putting their efforts into luring foreign bloodstock buyers into South Africa as a world-class (and cheap for most) travel destination.
Burgess writes: It’s been very well documented in the past as to the extraordinary difficulties faced in exporting South African thoroughbreds freely to other parts of the world. Hopefully with the passing of every day, we get closer to a solution.
So as we wait for who knows how long to take South African horses to the world easily, why don’t we actively market to bring the world, or more specifically those interested in Thoroughbred Racing to South Africa? I believe, marketed correctly, South Africa can provide a compelling case to attract foreigners to invest in racing and breeding in South Africa. In fact, with the raft of benefits on offer, it should be a no brainer!
As a destination, South Africa rates up there with the best of them. Beautiful climate, world class tourist attractions with the game parks, amazing beaches & coastline, exquisite wineries & restaurants, top ranked golf courses and of course, brilliant Thoroughbred Racing. Add to that the incredible exchange rate, and I’m already on the telephone to the travel agent booking my flight and accommodation!
Imagine the benefits both tangible and intangible here in promoting South Africa as a Thoroughbred destination and who would be the major beneficiaries? Well apart from the obvious ones in government, tourism and retail, if we bespoke market this opportunity to specific target markets, the breeders, sales companies and every other stakeholder in Thoroughbred Racing will be able to cash in on the action. The overall economic impact on so many sectors has the raw potential to be enormous, not to mention the job creation and other knock on effects.
So how do we go about attracting the world to South Africa, and whom do we target? Well firstly, we need a united front with all the Thoroughbred industry stakeholders gelling together and buy in from the government and their relevant departments who stand to gain from such a venture. Surely there would be some funding and financial support for such a venture at the very least in the form of some trade missions and information workshops?
A good starting point might be South East Asia more specifically in the form of Hong Kong and Singapore where there’s no lack of South African high profiles with the likes of Pat Shaw, Tony Millard, Dougie Whyte and Karis Teetan all plying their trade very successfully and flying the flag.
This demographic ticks a lot of the boxes. They’re cashed up, prolific travellers, love their golf, are buying wineries around the world hand over fist, and most importantly they’re big players in the Thoroughbred game.
With the limitations on the number of permits to race and own horses in Hong Kong, they have dipped their toe in the water in South Africa lately taking a position on buying yearlings with a view to exporting them if they measure up that has yielded some outstanding results in the form of group one Cape Guineas winner Elusive Gold, and the smart half brother to Soft Falling Rain, My Nephew Eric both now racing in Hong Kong.
Maybe we need to get on the front foot here with some savvy marketing and strategic planning to really target this opportunity in making them fully aware of what we have to offer, and how cost effective it would be for them with such a strong exchange rate. Oh, and not to mention what a great destination it is!
It could just be our window of opportunity to take South African Thoroughbred racing to the world?
About the author: SIMON BURGESS heads Australia’s Thoroughmedia Group.