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Tourism investment opportunities worth at least R9.4-billion with the potential to create over 3000 temporary jobs during construction and over 3000 permanent jobs were revealed during the keynote address that was delivered on behalf of MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Mr Siboniso Duma, by MEC for Health, Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, at a breakfast hosted by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal at the Africa Travel Indaba this morning.

Ms Simelane-Zulu referred to a portfolio of 15 catalytic projects across the province that would vastly improve the tourism potential of the province.

These projects – along with other private developments such as the Club Med resort to be built at Tinley Manor on the provinces North Coast, the Babanango Game Reserve, the Westown development at Shongweni and a new Ernie Else golf course at Zimbali Lakes, among others – indicated that private sector investors had considerable confidence in the province, she said.

The MEC noted that eight of the catalytic projects would be private sector-led and were mainly brown and greenfield developments.

Another four projects are part of Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife’s commercialisation strategy which requires private sector investment partners to develop operate and manage these on a 15–20-year Public-Private-Partnership concession.

This will enrich and expand Ezemvelo’s ecotourism products to meet the ever-growing hunger for unique eco-tourism experiences whilst enabling the entity to focus on its important conservation mandate.

“ The KwaZulu-Natal North Coast is an enviable strip of coastline stretching from the Tongaat River at Zimbali all the way to Kosi Bay. Here we have another four projects in one of our greatest tourism assets, the Isimangaliso Wetland Park. We are looking for private sector investment partners to develop, operate and manage government assets within this very special World Heritage Site,” the MEC said.

The MEC added that, because investment is for the bold and brave and the province needed to not only be easy to visit but easy to do business in, the feasibility studies, design developments and business plans have been completed for each of these projects. The land has been secured and they have the support of the relevant municipalities.

Presenting at the breakfast, Mr Olivier Perillat, General Manager Club Med SA, said the R2-billion Club Med resort project which is due to open in July 2026, would be a force for regional growth. The 32-hectare beach resort and 30 000 hectare Big 5 Bush Lodge in northern Zululand are expected to create 800 direct jobs, 1 500 indirect jobs and 1 200 construction jobs.

Dr. Andrew Baxter, the chief operating officer at Africa Habitat Conservancy and its subsidiary Babanango Game Reserve, a groundbreaking rewilding and conservation project that has set a precedent for community ownership for a Big 5 resort, said the recently completed investment project had created 220 jobs of which more than 75% were drawn from the local community. Babanango is now the largest employer in the district municipality.

Mr Carlos Correia, CEO of Fundamentum Property Group (Fundamentum), which is behind the mega Westown development at Shongweni, said that this 20-year project would bring significant socio-economic value to the Outer West region of eThekweni, with the first phase of the project due to open in March 2025. He said the municipality had already invested R600-million in bulk infrastructure for this project which is estimated to generate some R15 billion in investment over the next 10 to 15 years with over R3,5bn already committed and being invested.

Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said that TKZN was especially pleased to welcome 26 African countries which will showcase Africa’s best tourism products. She said the ATI was a unique experience that all travellers, local and international, should experience and was a very special opportunity that brought together the world’s travel buyers to focus on South Africa and the province of KZN.

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