Community to develop lodge

2008-05-13 00:00

Phase one of the development of Bhambatha Lodge at the Ngome Game Reserve near Greytown is progressing well, with the land rehabilitation process set to begin in a matter of weeks.

The development could ultimately represent an investment of well over R83 million.

Stakeholders involved in the project spoke to The Witness at the Tourism Indaba 2008 in Durban this week.

Phase one is expected to be completed by the end of this year and it is anticipated that the entire development will be up and running before the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The project — a public-private partnership between the Ngome community, the eLan Group, Tourism KZN, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Wildlands Conservation Trust and the KZN Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism (DACT) among others — is aimed at creating sustainable tourism-related development, centred on the area’s rich cultural, historic and wildlife heritage.

Visitors to the lodge will get a tourism experience linked closely with the famous "Bhambatha Rebellion" — in which Bhambatha kaMancinza led an uprising against the poll tax in 1906.

It is understood that the R7,6 million first phase of the development is funded mainly by the government.

It entails the construction of at least 10 chalets, as well as other vital infrastructure, employing several hundred people in the process.

Apart from a modest spread of wildlife, the development will boast conference facilities, a restaurant and a curio shop.

The eLan Group’s business development manager, Trenley Tillbrook, told The Witness that it is essential that the community benefit from the plot of land it acquired through the land restitution act.

Potential tourists will range from conference delegates, day visitors and foreign tourists.

The eLan group will be at the centre of several facets of the development, including marketing, operations and future expansion.

Ngome Trust chairman Michael Latha and trust member Oscar Zondi added that the community is in dire need of a local economic development project of this nature.

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