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Monday Apr 07, 2014

Durban beachfront booster planned

Durban is set to undergo a massive image-change with plans to develop a giant theme and water park, overhaul the cruise terminal and transform the main beaches into Miami-style tourist hubs.

A view of Durban's beachfront.

UShaka Marine World will be upgraded and the cruise terminal will be made more accessible, says the eThekwini Municipality

Naledi Moyo-Ndwandwe, the deputy city manager for sustainable development and city enterprises, said in an interview with The Mercury that the city was working with local and international partners to fund the developments.

Current and immediate projects would be completed by 2016; the second phase would continue until 2019.

The uShaka development should be completed by 2025.

The city is working on land issues and rezoning and building plans for a sports academy in the Moses Mabhida precinct.

'The vision is part of a 50-year plan for Durban and will be done in phases. We are positive and excited about these infrastructure plans. We are laying the foundation of a 50-year-plan,' she said.

The municipality revealed it was searching for Durban's 'wow' factor and a 'real image' to attract tourists after a report on the 2012/2013 summer season, commissioned by the municipality's Business Support, Tourism and Markets unit, found the main reason people came to Durban was to visit family and friends.

The report said Durban had 'nothing special' that attracted tourists and most local tourists were 'generally unaware' of attractions other than the main tourist hubs.

Recent figures and reports had also highlighted negative aspects including crime and grime, but the overriding factor was that the city lacked a product to market itself.

'The improvement to uShaka will blow you away... and we are looking at making the cruise ship terminal close to uShaka. The whole Point precinct will become a key theme/water park attraction.'

The uShaka plans were based on an international water park, but Moyo-Ndwandwe would not reveal which one.

The promenade and main beaches would be restructured, she said.

The beach vibe along the promenade would feature outdoor restaurants and music, while the beach would be divided into sections, like the beaches of Miami and Rio.

'We will have umbrellas on beaches, with one like a hip hop section with dancing and music. Another will be for those who want to relax and have manicures, for example, and another section may have an African/bazaar type vibe.'

Moyo-Ndwandwe said the city was revisiting sister agreements with international cities to bring in charter tours through the new airport, a strategy aligned with tourism in the province.

'We want to have a whole package on offer. We want to be the destination for families. We want our tourism concept to be one of relaxation and sport.'

Sporting tourism and the construction of the sports academy would be a major focus.

'We need to improve the swimming pool and transport at Moses Mabhida, and make the precinct more pedestrian-friendly. It needs to be all about lifestyle and sport.'

There were also plans to clean up the Warwick Triangle precinct, the domino effect of which would be to improve the Berea, Umbilo and Glenwood areas.

Vendors would be taken off the streets and moved to buildings with African markets.

'We want to get rid of crime and bring back the tourist footprint. We want to introduce African-style trading, as well as feature African fashion and African shebeens.

'We also plan to create a student accommodation village, including universities and private colleges. Universities have the biggest international exchange programmes, but we don't leverage on that.'

However, crime was a major impediment, and Moyo-Ndwandwe said she was aware of the perception that Durban was unsafe.

'We are never there 24/7 to see if someone is mugged and whether it makes international headlines, so it is difficult for us. But we will have security guards and work with the SAPS and metro police.'

Extra CCTV cameras would also be installed to impede crime.

The Mercury


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