PROTEA Hotels has withdrawn its application to build a hotel on the banks of Zambezi River near the world-renowned Mana Pools National Park and World Heritage Site.
The hotel group said it took the decision after a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and took cognisance of the concerns raised.
“We have decided not to progress, taking the view that further clarity on the matter is needed,” said the group in a statement. “Protea Hotels currently has five properties in Zambia and is committed to further investment. We will continue to have productive and meaningful dialogue with the Zambian authorities on further development in the country.”
In response to allegations made by protestors concerned about the eco-system in Zambia and Zimbabwe, the director of revenue management, sales and marketing for Protea Hotels, Danny Bryer, issued a statement saying Protea Hotels acknowledged the concerns that rose around a proposed Protea Hotels development in the Chiawa region of Zambia.
“Given our established commitment to the environment and communities in which we operate, we fully understand and support the need of the public and media to raise these questions. Protea Hotels is, therefore, keen to engage in open dialogue to satisfy any queries,” Bryer said.
“The issue, as it has been reported in recent media coverage, is not, however, factually correct. For the sake of clarity, we would like to stress the following points: The site acquired for development is outside the National Park, albeit within a wider game management area. Written submissions were made 18 months ago, and Protea Hotels has consulted with all stakeholders including the local community who to date have only voiced support for the project.”
He said the Zambian government had been consulted and involved at every stage of planning.
The proposed hotel was to be built about 12km from the Lower Zambezi National Park. Protea Hotels Zambia is 97,5% owned by Union Gold and 2,5% by Mauro Guardigli, an Italian living in Zambia.
The group operates under the Protea Inns and Hotels (Pty) Ltd franchise of South Africa.
The construction of the hotel, the environmentalists argued, was to have a huge impact on Zimbabwe.
Environmentalists argued that the hotel was to be built in an area which had already exceeded the Zambian government’s recommended number of hotels.