Durban - Plans are afoot to build KwaZulu-Natal’s first full-scale beach resort hotel of “international” standards, which would be a “game-changer” for North Coast tourism.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Mike Mabuyakhulu made the announcement during this year’s East3Route investment seminar hosted on the Seychelles’ Mahé Island last week.
The East3Route business seminar is an annual initiative with top-level representation from KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Moz-ambique and the Seychelles, created to promote “cross-border development” that ensures economic growth and job creation for its members.
The resort is expected to be built at KwaDukuza’s Tinley Manor Beach and to include a tourism school. It is expected to be modelled on the exquisite Russian-owned Savoy Resort at which delegates were accommodated during the Seychelles seminar.
The 163-bed Savoy Resort reportedly cost about $50-million (R600m) to build and opened in May last year.
It features an expansive outdoor pool, a comfortable library, a supervised children’s club, an exclusive spa, and guest rooms and suites.
No price tag has been put on the proposed North Coast development, which would incorporate watersport and conferencing facilities.
Speaking to more than 100 delegates from the four countries, Mabuyakhulu said the establishment of the resort was “at the summit of our priorities in the 20-year tourism master plan”.
“We are thrilled to announce that our efforts to secure investment for the beach resort have gained traction and some of the milestones reached include a partnership with the Tongaat Hulett group,” he said.
Tongaat Hulett executives Trenley Tilbrook and Dayalan Chetty elaborated on the project in an interview on the sidelines of the seminar.
Tilbrook said: “As part of that process, we’ve come to the Seychelles to get a bit of understanding of resorts. We went to the tourism academy yesterday and we are looking at how we could partner them to set up our own academy in Tinley Manor as well.”
He said the project was still in the early stages.
“The next step is for us to sign a memorandum of understanding (with the Seychelles). They already have an MOU with Zambia, so there’s a model in place that seems to work. We’ll then start interrogating the exact operating model. They will be guiding us a lot in terms of set-up,” he said.
Chetty said there was a “huge” beach resort gap to be exploited in KZN and the project would seek to capitalise on this.
“We are just trying to explore ways of bridging that gap. There are definite opportunities and the intent is there. It is just a matter of getting the right partners and see what we can do to try and replicate what is already a successful model.”
They were optimistic the concept would be a success, saying: “It would be a game-changer for the North Coast if we land an international beach resort”.
“Two of our operators have looked at it and said because of the close proximity to the airport and the beach, it is a no-brainer. They would definitely be able to get in charters.”
He said the provincial government had indicated it would also send hundreds of visitors to the resort in a three-year programme.
Chetty said it was just a matter of roping in investors and operators.
He hoped the resort would be off the ground within the next “12 to 24 months”.