Construction of a five-star hotel on community land adjacent to the Wild Coast’s pristine Mkhambathi Reserve starts next month.
Tourism minister Derek Hanekom told a media briefing in Tsitsikamma last week, at the launch of tourism month, which is in September: “It’s a really, great exciting project.
“It’s being done with government support but without a cent of government funding.
“Community members came with their own equity share as landowners because there was a successful land claim there.
“It is what you call tribal land or traditional land.
“What is envisaged is an affordable five-star hotel and, importantly one that is totally off the grid,” he said in his keynote address.
SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona, at Hanekom’s side, said the hotel complex would be managed by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) and would create hundreds of jobs.
ECPTA CEO Vuyani Dayimani said the majority shareholder, at 51%, was Colin Bell, through his company Mkambati Matters, in partnership with leading tourism marketing and operating company Natural Selections.
The surrounding community, through the Mkhambathi Land Trust, will have a 49% stake in the hotel by virtue of their ownership of the land, said Dayimani.
The hotel will cost R200-million to build and will have 110 beds and 10 villas.
It will permanently employ 120 people from nearby villages.
Dayimani said the hotel would also hire a further 30 locals on a part-time basis.
During construction of the complex, 70 temporary jobs will be created.
Dayimani said upgrades to the Wild Coast N2 would allow guests easy access.
The residents only took ownership of the land in 2014, although their land claim was approved in 2004.
Dayimani said the hotel would be built next to the ECPTA-run Mkhambathi Nature Reserve, which is also on land owned by the community.
Dayimani said the hotel’s construction had been delayed by planning issues, which included converting a portion of land that was zoned for agriculture for tourism purposes.
The reserve is 30km southwest of Port Edward and 59km northeast of Port St Johns.
Ntshona said internationally-recognised World Tourism Day, on September 27, would be celebrated in Mthatha, as part of former president Nelson Mandela’s centenary celebrations.
“It’s a really, great exciting project.
“The principle is that each year, tourism month is celebrated in a different province.
“This year is the Eastern Cape’s turn and we will partner with local government and the premier’s office, which tells us where we can hold the celebrations,” he said.
The celebrations will be held at the community-owned Luchaba Nature Reserve.