4 January 2008
Europe’s largest resort operator, Club Mediterranee (Club Med), has reportedly been scouting the scenic north coast of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province for what would be its first resort in southern Africa.
Local newspaper The Mercury reported in November that Club Med bosses had made trips to potential sites that included the iSimangaliso (formerly St Lucia) Wetland Park World Heritage site and the eLan Group’s Blythedale resort location near Ballito north of Durban.
Thierry Orsoni, spokesmen for the French-based luxury resort group, confirmed this, telling The Mercury that while a final decision had yet to be made, Club Med hoped to make an announcement in early 2008, with an eye to opening the new resort in time for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
The KwaZulu-Natal north coast was being considered “because of the region’s good weather, which permitted an all-year-round operation,” Orsoni told The Mercury. “The new King Shaka International Airport at the Dube TradePort, which would make this destination easily accessible from Europe, and South Africa’s hosting the Fifa World Cup in 2010, were also significant considerations.”
There has reportedly been strong interest from local and international tourism investors since the iSimangaliso Wetland Park put a number of resort development sites out to tender in September.
Terri Castis, commercial director of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, told The Mercury’s Suren Naidoo that securing good operators for the facilities in iSimangaliso would raise the park’s profile and increase the number of visitors to the region.
“Importantly it will also result in significant economic ownership, jobs and SMME opportunities for local community partners,” Castis said. “The projects will also provide a direct link to Durban’s iNkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre and the new King Shaka International Airport.”