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Construction on arguably the largest tourism resort and property development yet in the small landlocked kingdom of Swaziland began last week, with KwaZulu-Natal developer – the eLan Group – driving the multi-billion rand project jointly with Swazi-based Lubombo Development and Management Limited.
Dubbed Royal Jozini Big Six, the project is the brainchild of Jim Brown – who secured eLan to project manage arid market the development to become “one of Africa`s most significant tourism destinations”.
Set on a breathtaking 16 OOO ha site in the Lavumisa area of Swaziland overlooking the majestic Lake Jozini and with the Lubombo Mountains as a backdrop, the resort will boast 610 residential sites for waterfrorit, mountain and bush camp lodges, a Big Five game reserve (the sixth aspect being the tiger fish), hotel and marina and, planned for the future, an 18-hole golf course, casino and commercial complex.
It incorporates the northern reaches of Lake Jozini and is situated in south-eastern Swaziland on land that the developers have effectively secured a 198 year lease on.
“Royal Jozini Big Six will be developed over a number of phases and, on completion, the 3 000 bed resort is expected to provide about 2 000 permanent jobs and more than 2 000 indirect sustainable jobs,” said Mark Taylor, Chief Executive of the eLan Group.
“This represents a massive imminent economic impact on an area which is currently in the depths of poverty and unemployment.
“The magnitude of the development means jobs will be created for virtually the entire population of the local town of Lavumisa,” he said.
Brown, the Projects Director of Lubombo Development and Management Limited (LDM), said: “This project has received the full support of King Mswati III and the Swaziland government, who see the development as being one of the biggest projects in the country, creating huge economic spin-offs for the local economy and dramatically improving employment levels in the area.”
He said: “Not only will there be increased wealth as a result of largescale employment and tourism, but also in the provision of community services, local infrastructure and public facilities to which the Swazi government is committed. Besides job creation and small business development, the resort and reserve will assist in uplifting local communities by also providing skills transfer and training for the construction phase.”
When Royal Jozini Big Six is completed in 2012, the developers expect the value of the project to hit the R3.2 billion mark. The first lodge units are expected to be ready for occupation by December 2008 and the waterfront hotel is expected to be completed by 2010.
The planned Peter Matkovitch designed championship golf course and golf estate with 200 golf villa sites will be in the penultimate phase of the development, while construction of the casino hotel and commercial centre forms part of the final phase.
“A great deal of research and planning has gone into this development, so we are excited that it is finally off the ground.
“We have the perfect partners in the development with the eLan Group on board,” said Brown.
Local construction company Stefanutti & Bressan started earth and road works at the site last Friday and the main construction work will start in earnest early next year.
Royal Jozini Big Six is located in the Nsubane-Pongola Transfrontier Park and, with Swaziland set to open the new Sikuphe International Airport, the 2010 soccer World Cup will bolster the development value internationally. Nsubane-Pongola Transfrontier Park is one of five Transfrontier Parks that comprise the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area which came into being in March 2000 when the governments of South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique signed a General Protocol to work together to conserve biodiversity across international borders and to contribute to the socio-economic development of local people.
Suren Naidoo, The Mercury Network