Gauteng to cash in on conservation

Posted On Wednesday, 01 August 2001 03:01 Published by
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Reserve designed for business tourists

Reserve designed for business tourists

BIG commercial property development opportunities are in the pipeline for northeast Gauteng, thanks to the province's agriculture and land affairs department.

The opportunities include hotels, lodges, entertainment facilities, and retail and residential developments in the Nokeng tsa Taemane municipal district, between Pretoria and Bronkhorstspruit.

The agriculture and land affairs department is doing a feasibility study which could lead to the establishment of Denokeng, a R140m tourism project.

Denokeng is a name which in Sotho means a place of rivers. The project proposes to take advantage of a confluence of five rivers, including the Elands and Pienaars rivers. The idea is to establish a new ecotourism destination for Gauteng.

Project manager Fana Jiyane says the project should create 'an all-of-Africa-in-one-day hub in close proximity to Johannesburg and Pretoria, featuring the big five'.

He says the project should complement the status of Gauteng as a popular area for business tourists, offering a cost-effective alternative to attractions further afield.

Business tourists spend seven times more than leisure tourists; as Gauteng attracts more business tourists than any other region it puts the province at an advantage.

Denokeng is part of the R1,7bn Blue IQ project, a provincial government initiative intended to boost investment and economic activity in certain areas of the province.

The project encompasses 10 projects, which include a highspeed rail link between Pretoria, Johannesburg and the Johannesburg International Airport.

Jiyane says Denokeng will offer good commercial development opportunities, but these will be strictly regulated to conform with the principle which is driving the project, namely nature conservation.

The feasibility study should be completed before the end of the year. If the project gets the green light, construction will begin by the middle of next year.

Jiyane stresses that the project will only go ahead if it is viable.

It is intended to combine three aspects of tourism: nature conservation, culture and history.

The project will take advantage of the existing infrastructure in the area, such as the Kwamajekeje cultural village and Cullinan Diamond Mine, which produced the Cullinan diamond which is now part of the British crown jewels.

The bulk of the R140m government investment in the project will be used primarily for infrastructure development, including roads and bulk infrastructure, which should trigger a flow of other services.

Jiyane says the project will depend on broad public support and interest from the private sector.

One of the most important determinants of success will be the cooperation of local land owners and residents. They are being lobbied to remove fences to create a game reserve. Some of them will be expected to sell their properties.

Jiyane says the project's success will lie in its ability to uplift the community by creating employment opportunities. It hinges on realising government's objective of making SA one of the preferred tourist destinations in the world.

Publisher: Business Day
Source: Business Day

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