Gar­den Route’s Des­tiny un­veiled

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

WEST­ERN Cape Premier He­len Zille re­cently un­veiled plans for one of Africa’s sin­gle-big­gest pri­vate de­vel­op­ment projects at a cer­e­mony in Ge­orge to kick­start the trans­for­ma­tion of the Gar­den Route into a global busi­ness and eco-tourism des­ti­na­tion.

The R28 bil­lion Des­tiny Africa Eco­sphere project will in­te­grate world-class con­fer­enc­ing, a knowl­edge city, a busi­ness park, a uni­ver­sity clus­ter, med­i­cal and bio­sphere tourism and eco-res­i­den­tial and hous­ing de­vel­op­ments.

In all, 2.5 mil­lion square me­tres of bulk rights have been ap­proved for a project that could take 17 years to con­clude, en­sur­ing sub­stan­tial post-2010 de­vel­op­men­tal ac­tiv­ity for the West­ern Cape. Bulk rights on this scale and syn­er­gis­tic in­te­gra­tion of busi­ness learn­ing, re­search, con­fer­enc­ing and busi­ness in­cu­ba­tion cre­ates a “smart city” on lines pi­o­neered in high-growth economies such as Sin­ga­pore and China.

Zon­ing ap­proval was granted in May for the 437ha site on the Gar­den Route near Ge­orge.

Zille was on hand to un­veil the de­vel­op­ment model, as smart city think­ing and the eco­sphere con­cept align closely with the prov­ince’s strate g y of pro­mot­ing g rowth t h r o u g h “ k n o w l e d g e e c o n o my in­dus­tries”.

Lever­ag­ing job cre­ation and for­eign ex­change earn­ings through in­ter­na­tional con­fer­enc­ing, tourism and SME de­vel­op­ment also finds a close fit with na­tional pol­icy.

The driv­ing force be­hind Des­tiny Africa is Des­tiny Africa In­vest­ments Hold­ings. Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Thys

Con­ceived as Africa’s lead­ing Mice venue, it also cre­ates a plat­form to pro­mote area’s

eco-tourism

Pre­to­rius says the ini­tia­tive has h u g e p o t e n t i a l , a n d eve n c o n - ser­va­tive pro­jec­tions en­vis­age the cre­ation of an es­ti­mated 50 000 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs over 10 years.

“A ma­jor driver and lead el­e­ment in the over­all vi­sion is the meet­ings, in­cen­tives, con­fer­ences and ex­pos (Mice) com­po­nent. Busi­ness t o u r i s m u n d e r p i n n e d by maj o r in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences is a global growth in­dus­try, yet po­ten­tial goes largely un­tapped in South Africa.

“Des­tiny Africa – con­ceived as Africa’s lead­ing Mice venue – fills the gap. It also cre­ates a plat­form to pro­mote the Gar­den Route as the world’s premier eco-tourism des­ti­na­tion. The Gar­den Route packs the most eco-di­ver­sity into the small­est land area on the planet. Again, the po­ten­tial goes un­tapped… but not for long,” says Pre­to­rius.

Des­tiny Africa could be cru­cial to South Africa’s long-term strat­egy to be­come glob­ally com­pet­i­tive and glob­ally at­trac­tive as an in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion and mag­net for in­ter­na­tional skills, says Pre­to­rius.

“In­ter na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence has proved that job cre­ation and the growth of na­tional economies can be trig­gered by us­ing an eco­sphere cat­a­lyst at the right lo­ca­tion. Suc­cesses in­clude Cal­i­for­nia’s Sil­i­con Val­ley, Corn­wall in the UK, Sin­ga­pore, Shang­hai, Hy­der­abad in In­dia, Can­cun in Mex­ico and Cairns in Aus­tralia.

“At the mo­ment, South Africa is los­ing skilled peo­ple. To re­verse the trend, we need a re­cep­tive en­vi­ron­ment in­te­grat­ing lear ning, busi­ness, life­style and eco-com­po­nents – a smart city de­signed to at­tract smart peo­ple and smart busi­ness. That’s the Des­tiny Africa propo­si­tion, and it’s great to see it tak­ing off.”

PURE PO­TEN­TIAL: An aerial view of the R28 bil­lion Des­tiny Africa Eco­sphere project in Ge­orge on the Gar­den Route.

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