The Swaziland government has granted a R80 million tender to Inyatsi Construction to do earthworks preparations for a luxury hotel and convention centre complex at the Mbabane suburb of Ezulwini.
The project was mooted in 2000 but awaited the completion of the R3 billion King Mswati III International Airport, whose original construction cost was set at R100m.
The airport was dedicated by Mswati in March but remains unused. No official name has been given to the new Ezulwini complex, but it is being referred to by planners as the King Mswati III Hotel and Convention Centre.
Like the airport, the hotel and convention centre project was not subject to any known economic feasibility study.
“The hotel is being built in an overly-saturated market. Other than a few provincial hotels scattered about Swaziland, all the big tourist accommodation is concentrated in Ezulwini. The country’s only convention centre is in Ezulwini and is privately-owned and managed by Sun International.
“Because tourist numbers are declining in Swaziland, I’m advising clients to divest from property holding companies listed on the Swaziland Stock Exchange. The new government hotel will negatively impact existing hotel business and may force some hotel closures,” said Mbabane investment advisor Milton Fakudze.
One of Ezulwini’s prominent hotels, the Ezulwini Sun, closed in June 2012 to await a resurgence in tourism business that has not come to Swaziland.
King Mswati’s brother, Prince Hlangusemphi Dlamini, who was given the job of minister of economic planning and development by Mswati, has also promised a five-star hotel.
The facility, whose cost has not been announced, will accommodate 300 guests while the convention centre will take up to 1 800 people.
Privately, some government planners say the new hotel is necessary despite the country’s declining economy as it would be required to accommodate VIP guests if other hotels were to close. – Stephen Langa