Enterprise St Helena is locked in a “chicken and egg” stand-off with Shelco over its planned Wirebird Hill resort, according to Britain’s Financial Times newspaper.
Writer Horatio Clare says that St Helena – “perhaps the strangest of tropical islands” – may be about to experience “one of the world’s most unlikely investment booms.”
But while the island’s airport is under construction, the luxury eco resort at Broad Bottom is not.
“ESH… wants Shelco to commit to building their hotel so that an airline might commit for flights,” writes Clare. “Shelco wants ESH to produce an airline before they begin work on the hotel.”
St Helena Online has previously reported Shelco’s insistence on flights from Europe, which at one stage looked unlikely.
The FT also quotes Julian Morris, head of economic development, on the need for tourism: “I don’t think the island’s situation is very good,” he says. “Average wage £6,000, hospital’s poor, school’s extremely poor, 20 per cent of kids have got at least one parent working overseas.
“The island is earning £2 per person per day from its own activities, so we would be one of the poorest places in Africa, and yet you drive around and it feels like it’s a slightly poorer version of the UK.”
In fact, educational standards are reported to be rising rapidly, both at primary school and GCSE level – albeit from a very low base.
The article also quotes a visiting South African businessman, Duncan Grindley, who arrived anticipating “massive opportunity” for tented camps and walking tours.
By the end of the week, his attitude had changed, he told the FT: “Walking tours are out – you go 5km and you might as well have gone 50 because of the gradients.”
Read the full article here.