Work is poised to start on the Skukuza Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park (KNP) following a ground breaking ceremony led by Environmental Affairs Minister, Dr Edna Molewa.
South African National Parks (SANParks) CEO, Fundisile Mketeni, said the new accommodation will make KNP more competitive. It will give the park the ability to host a greater range of events and generate employment.
There are some concerns that the new lodge will increase pressure on the environment within KNP. But, Molewa dispelled these, saying that plans are in place to transport guests by charter flights or busses.
Molewa was also clear that accusations of overdevelopment and over commercialisation were unfounded. She cited the terms of international IUCN standards, whereby a park can be developed up to 10% of its size. The current development footprint of KNP is 0.3%.
250 to 300 jobs are expected to be created from conceptualisation, construction and operational stages.
The jobs are seen as crucial in the Lowveld region where unemployment among the local population is running at 70%.
The Skukuza Safari Lodge is being developed as a 3 Star facility with 128 rooms.
The cost of the complex including the lodge itself, bulk services and staff housing is reportedly around R269,5 million. It is being funded from the Infrastructure Development Grant.