The Desert Dash

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With the stage set for one of the most grueling endurance events globally through 369 kilometers of the formidable Namib Desert, many eagerly anticipate the profusion of spillover benefits the Nedbank Desert Dash brings annually.

More than 1 000 Dashers are ready to conquer the oldest desert in the world in the course of just 24 hours, and thousands more are on stand-by to support and greet riders, as they tiredly but triumphantly cross the finish line at Swakopmund on 8 December. The Swakopmund municipality says the coastal town is proud of the role it plays in this prestigious event. Moreover, locals greatly value the multiple perks that come with it. “Each year most of the hotels and guesthouses are fully booked, including the bungalows managed by the municipality,” Aili Gebhardt, Swakopmund municipal spokes-person, says.
Around N$1,5 million was generated during the event last year for the small coastal town, she adds, as well as several temporary jobs.
Additionally, the event casts a bright spotlight on the town and Namibia as a whole, promoting it as an attractive tourism destination.
The stark conditions and the thrill of finishing the tough course is a boon for the tourism industry that has long worked to promote Namibia as a top-notch adventure tourism hotspot.
Gitta Paetzold, Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) executive officer, says the Nedbank Desert Dash has “truly become one of the most important sporting and adventure tourism events on the Namibian calendar.”
She says the tourism industry, in an effort to promote domestic, regional and international tourism, has for long aimed to identify key events in Namibia to help lure local and foreign visitors.
“The Nedbank Desert Dash fits this model perfectly, as it is an outstanding race that no only attracts local cyclists, but has over the years attracted increasing numbers of inter-national competitors as is proven by the 2018 entry numbers, with people from more than 14 countries taking part.”
More than 60 per cent of the just over 1 000 entrants daring to tackle the route are Namibians, joined by 311 South African’s and 69 cyclists from another 12 countries, including Germany, Austria, Canada, The USA, France and Luxembourg.
“Crossing one of Namibia’s most spectacular landscapes linking the capital to the coast, the Nedbank Desert Dash is the perfect opportunity to showcase one of the country’s most rugged, soulful, inspiring and liberating terrains,” Paetzold points out.
Paetzold adds that the Nedbank Desert Dash is known far and wide as one of the most challenging day-races across the globe and is undoubtedly a ‘must-do’ event for every serious cyclist. “And, coverage of this event helps to market the country’s uniqueness.” He exclaimed.
It is estimated the event pumps at least N$20 million of additional revenue into Namibia’s economy, from flights, car rentals, health ser-vices, and other tourism related activities.
Gebhardt agrees that in addition to the surge of visitors descending on the town, the Dash promotes the area as an “irresistible holiday destination”, which whets the appetite to experience more parts of the country, and to spread the word back home.
“This in turn, brings in foreign currency, creates more jobs, helps to develop our town and others and helps us to preserve a diverse culture and the environment,” she concludes.
Gernot de Klerk, head of marketing and communication at Nedbank Namibia, says unique characteristics of the dash, including the landscape and rugged route, combined with the quality and professional work of the race organisers, has helped shape the Nedbank Desert Dash into the global magnet it is today.
“Through the success and growth of events such as the Nedbank Desert Dash, Namibia has now become a popular destination of premier events.”
As Namibia proudly celebrates the broad and tangible impact of the Dash, the ultimate payoff is for the cycling community itself as well as the sport.
Nedbank Namibia has for more than three decades played a decisive role in Namibia’s cycling arena, and helped to shape a world-class cycling talent.
“Nedbank Namibia realizes the importance of consistently offering quality races to hone the skills and competitive edge of our cyclists, who do not have to stand back for anyone as far as sheer talent, is concerned. We remain exceptionally proud of our flagship event,” de Klerk says.

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