Expansion is part of the new Kruger tourism model

Building has started on the Skukuza Conference Lodge.

SKUKUZA – It is all systems go for the 250-bed Skukuza Conference Lodge (SCL). Work on the project located next to the Conference Centre at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park (KNP) has already started by Murray and Roberts in April.

The architect for the project is JR Mashilo Lambrechts.

An amount of R230 million was budgeted for it and will be financed solely by SANParks.

Glenn Phillips, managing executive of the KNP, said at a recent stakeholder meeting that KNP tents and huts contain 637 beds. In huts with facilities there are 2 346 beds. A further 1 342 beds are in family houses and guest houses.

There are at present 4 325 beds available for visitors. Camping facilities provide overnight space for 4 002 campers. In 2008, 1,3 million tourists visited the park. The projection for 2017 is 1,8 million.

“Emerging realities are placing enormous pressure on financial sustainability,” said Phillips, with reference to proposed and new developments such as the SCL. We need a new tourism model.”

Read more about the planning of Skukuza Conference Lodge and the Malelane Precint

In answer to questions on Kruger developments by TZ Hadebe of the DA, put to the minister of environmental affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, facts around the SCL and the Conference Centre came to light.

Molewa said since the completion of Nombolo Mdhluli Conference Centre in 2011, up to the present, 613 reservations were made for a total of 36 299 conference-goers. This produced revenue of R16,36 million.

“It is envisaged that the centre will make significant profits once the construction of the SCL is finalised and the lodge is open for business,” said Molewa.

Read more about the initial plans for the Conference Centre and Lodge

She did not answer Hadebe’s question on how many of these conferences were booked by government institutions.

The construction of the conference centre cost R27,3 million.

In connection with the proposed Shangoni Gate, Molewa answered that the budget for the proposed development, including the gate entrance, tourist facilities, camping site, tented site, picnic site and tarred road, was R263 million.

She mentioned that the current funding available was R25 million.

She confirmed that the roads would be tarred and that the gate would be used for entry and exit by domestic and foreign tourists. The road will be 50,6 kilometres long.

The estimated cost of the road was recently given at a stakeholder meeting as R150 million.

 

  AUTHOR
Elize Parker
Environmental Journalist Lowvelder

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