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A portfolio of catalytic tourism projects in KwaZulu-Natal valued at R9,4 billion were presented to investors, funding institutions and financiers attending the Tourism Investment Forum Africa, as part of the World Travel Market Africa (WTM Africa) taking place in Cape Town from yesterday 10 April.

WTM Africa 2024 is an exclusive B2B event that brings together 6000 travel industry professionals from across the world to focus on the opportunities and issues that will drive commercial success for the African travel industry.

Details of the projects, which are spread from Durban to Kosi Bay on the far north coast, to the Midlands, Drakensberg and the South Coast and valued from as little as R3 to 10 million to R4 billion were outlined by Dr Thandeka Ellenson, Acting Head of Department, Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

“These projects along with many other private developments such as the Club Med resort to be built at Tinley Manor on the KZN North Coast, positions KwaZulu-Natal as a tourism investment destination. “Tourism Development is a key part of our mandate as we continue to upgrade and expand KZN’s tourism product offerings. New products, experiences and services are important in growing the province’s tourism industry, because they enhance the destination’s competitiveness, increase the length stay in KZN, the spend and economic impacts, as well as encouraging new and repeat visits,” said,” Mr Sibusiso Gumbi Acting Chief Executive Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN).

Gumbi pointed out that while the tourism landscape in South Africa has transformed immensely there is still a lot more to be done in ensuring that communities benefit from tourism. Therefore, it is encouraging that many of these projects have been brought to TKZN by local communities and are intended to drive transformation in the tourism sector.

Mr. Sihle Ngcamu Acting CEO: Trade & Investment KZN said that the return to pre-Covid 19 tourist numbers and the projected global growth of the tourism sector had caught the attention of seasoned and new investors who were looking at this sector as a means to generate substantial returns.

“With the provincial government and its entities responsible for tourism development actively supporting the revival of tourism and implementing initiatives to facilitate investor-friendly policies, I have no doubt that the tourism sector in KwaZulu-Natal is poised to experience a more remarkable rebound.

I therefore believe it is for this reason that investor interest in the tourism sector remains strong, despite the challenges and risks that persist, since they realize the continued potential and profitability of this sector,” he said.

Of the projects, eight are private sector-led and are mainly brown and greenfield developments. These include the new Woodstock Resort at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains catering for a hotel, floating restaurant among other things; Shakaland Culture and Adventure Resort; Durban Eye Ferris Wheel, Amatata Mountain Tourism and Cultural Centre at Inanda near Durban; Balele Game Park a theme park, recreation and accommodation at Utrecht Northern KZN; Uthukela Lifestyle Resort on the Banks of the Tugela River aimed at medical tourism and the Beachwood Resort a 7-star contemporary resort in Durban North.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife projects encompass two bush lodges, three boat houses, two boat cruises, and one information center/museum, the Didima SAN Rock Art Centre, of which all are to be executed through 15-20 Year Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Concessions.

These projects represent just a few of the numerous green and brown commercialisation initiatives that Ezemvelo plans to undertake in the near future.

“Commercialisation forms a crucial aspect of Ezemvelo’s Corporate Strategy, aimed at enriching and expanding its ecotourism product and service offerings to meet the demands of its tourists. While commercialization is expected to enable Ezemvelo to concentrate on its mandates of biodiversity conservation and ecotourism promotion, the process also expected to reduce the organization’s reliance on fiscal support over time by providing diverse ecotourism business opportunities to potential private sector investors,” said Mr Sihle Mkhize Acting Chief Executive Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

On the KZN North Coast there are another four projects within the Isimagaliso Wetland Park which are looking for private sector investment partners to leverage of government properties in the park through development, operation and management of these assets.

These are the Maphelane Resort at the foot of the wetland park’s dune forest; an upmarket to mid-market lodge and camping resort Cape Vidal aimed at family getaways; at Kosi Bay in the top northeast corner of KwaZulu-Natal the opportunity is to develop a 350-400 bed Lake Lodge and Conference facility; and at Charter’s Creek the opportunity is to operate the existing lodge and campsites, day and night game drives, boat cruises and guided walks

It is estimated that these projects will create over 3000 temporary jobs during construction and over 3000 permanent jobs.

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