Rural poor buy into KwaZulu ecotourism venture
Friday, April 17, 1998
Business Day (Johannesburg, South Africa) by Nicola Jenvey
Northern KwaZuluNatal's first community-based tourism and conservation project has been launched, coinciding with the start of construction on the R180m tarred "tourism road" through Maputoland.
The region forms part of the government-identified spatial development initiative for northern KwaZulu-Natal, southern Mozambique and eastern Swaziland.
The R4m, 40-bed Sibaya Lake Lodge is a joint venture between private enterprise and an impoverished rural community and is financed by developer Island Rock, a Danish investor and the KwaZulu-Natal Finance and Investment Corporation.
Sited in a 250ha community conservation area, the project lies on the KwaChitumuzi peninsula on the northern shores of Lake Sibaya, the country's largest freshwater lake.
Island Rock has established a community trust, which the provincial government has issued with permission to occupy to give the trust tenure.
The Manzingwenya community, which owns 50% of the lodge, will share proportionately in the profits and benefit from job creation both during construction and once the resort opens.
Island Rock director Carl Schutte said the project launch was the culmination of five years of talks with stakeholders and extensive capacity building in a community which previously had few job opportunities.
He said due to the private Danish investment, the development had arranged Danish government support for further training and capacity building for the community.
The lodge aimed to offer international service standards with local skills. He said the intention was to outsource services to the community.
While direct employment accounted for about 25 jobs, he believed there would be numerous smaller businesses mushrooming around subsidiary services, including cleaning, reserve management, guiding, maintenance and transport.
The lodge will be completed by the end of the year and once fenced, the reserve will be stocked with game.