New hotels to cater for demand

Applications to build four new hotels have been approved by the Sol Plaatje municipality as the local hospitality sector gears itself up for the high demand for rooms ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

The hotels range from three- to five-star establishments, said executive mayor Patrick Lenyibi, who also bragged about an array of tourist destinations offered by his municipality.

"One of them will be a three-star hotel where the Big Hole (the first diamond mine in Kimberley with more than 17 shafts) is situ- ated , which is now part of the history of the mining industry in South Africa.

"The Big Hole attracts between 220 000 and 240 000 tourists yearly," said Lenyibi.

He said three new hotels will be built at the entrances to Kimberley from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Upington.

Lenyibi said investors were clearly targeting the main entrances of Kimberley, which currently has five hotels. He said between 12 and 15 applications were received to convert houses into B&Bs.

"The hospitality industry will ease the pressure on the City of Mangaung. Fifa needs 20000 beds for the World Cup, which gives us a great opportunity to further develop the municipality.

"There is also a massive development at the Big Hole where the municipality, the Northern Cape government, the Northern Cape Tourism Board, the Frances Baart district municipality and De Beers have joined hands," said Lenyibi.

"Tourists visiting the Big Hole enjoy seeing some old equipment used by the miners to dig for diamonds. We also have uniforms used by miners then, small and big diamonds on display.

"The Big Hole now has restaurants and coffee shops. As I talk to you now we have already spent more than R50 million on the development of the Big Hole, which will also have a huge conference centre and hall."

The articulate Lenyibi said they will be using the R11 million that the municipality receives yearly from the National Treasury to improve their ageing road infrastructure.

He added that they had also applied for a loan of R35 million, which will be used to repair burst pipes, electric cables and sewerage systems.