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21 Aug 2014

Resort worth R35-billion in the pipeline

Bevis Fairbrother (South Coast Herald)

The South Coast could soon have something ‘bigger than Sun City’.

A R35-billon ‘Caribbean-type’ tourism project is ‘in the pipeline’ for the South Coast, MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu announced in Margate on Monday night.

Mr Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, was speaking to about 200 Ugu District leaders at a gala dinner at the Margate Hotel about his department’s bold plan for ‘radical economic transformation’ in the province.

The South Coast is an integral part of the overall plan.

“We are negotiating with a number of big spenders to develop resorts like one would find in the Caribbean,” he said.

He did not mention specific details of the development, but local professionals at the dinner (who have been involved in the planning) and property dealers were all aware of what he was alluding to. They said they were expecting an announcement to be made by September.

They said that negotiations had been taking place for months around the possible development of a ‘Music City’ near Hibberdene. It would be built in three phases with the ‘destination resort’ eventually growing to ‘twice the size of Sun City’.

They said this would ‘change the face of the South Coast’ and would provide thousands of permanent and supplementary jobs.

Provincial and local government is said to be fully on board and there is debate about upgrading or even moving the Margate Airport to accommodate the overseas market.

Aerotropolis

Mr Mabuyakhulu seemed to back this up by confirming that the province planned to develop an ‘aerotropolis’, integrating upgraded regional airports – including Margate – with King Shaka.

Mr Mabuyakhulu spent nearly three hours detailing his department’s plans for KZN.

This included establishing and supporting various ‘hubs’ in the province which would be linked to two special economic zones: Dube Trade Port and Richards Bay.

Perishable goods hub

The Ugu district had been earmarked as a hub for perishable goods processing with a view to exporting to other Brics countries, especially to the rapidly growing markets in China and India.

“We want to identify opportunities for SMMEs with incubation and mentorship programmes in place so that they do not die within the first two years,” he said.

KZN also had its eye on a slice of the R12-billion film production industry and he urged municipalities to cut the red tape and for local leaders not to be greedy.

Warning to liquor offenders

He also warned illegal liquor operators that there would be “zero tolerance” of anyone breaking the new laws which have allowed retailers to open on Sundays. Liquor outlets within 500m of schools had a three-year grace period to look for alternative premises and were not allowed to operate during school hours.

 

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