Two South African companies, Mantis in the hotel business and Comair airline, will be playing a vital role in developing St Helena's economy through increased communications and the tourist industry, once the international airport is opened next February, according to the latest news from the British Overseas Territory in mid South Atlantic.
St Helena is famous among other things because emperor Napoleon spent his last years (1815/1821) and died in the island where he was sent in exile by Britain. The house he lived in, the gardens and the place where he was buried are part of a plot of land declared French territory with the tricolor flying.
Mantis, a collection of privately owned boutique hotels and eco escapes around the world, have been officially awarded the contract to develop and manage a new 4 star hotel on the island of St Helena. This is off the back of news that Comair has been awarded the first ever scheduled air services between Johannesburg and St Helena Airport.
In the presentation Mantis says that St Helena, one of the remotes places on earth (2.000 kilometers from any landmass) has an abundance of natural beauty, friendly people and fun-filled activities including Napoleonic sites and walks on land once occupied by prisoners of war during the Boer Wars.
Jonathan, arguably the oldest tortoise in the world, enjoys life in the picturesque gardens of Plantation House, which is the governor’s official residence and a visit to St Helena also means exploring the scenic coastal and inland walks.
An escorted tour in the island’s only Charabanc is a highlight, as is the stop at the top of Jacob’s Ladder which looks across to Jamestown. The museum in Jamestown explores the history of Britain’s second oldest colony in an informative and interesting way.
A Mantis team including founder and chairman, Adrian Gardiner, visited the island in 2013 and identified Lower Jamestown as the location for the hotel, which will have 32 bedrooms, restaurant and bar facilities. Construction is due to start in July 2015, and the hotel is expected to open during the first half of 2016.
The island, a new tourism destination which is currently accessed by the last commercially operating Royal Mail Ship, is scheduled to open its first airport during early 2016, marking another important step in the evolution of St Helena Island. The 47 square mile island has a population of 4.247.
As to Comair it plans to fly once a week from Johannesburg. The flight on the 138-seat Boeing 737 will take four and half hours -- in stark contrast to the five days it currently takes on an irregular boat service from Cape Town.
This marks a very positive step for St Helena in working with an airline... which provides an excellent gateway to the rest of the world, the island government said in a statement.
Saint Helena was a busy stopover point between Europe, Asia and South Africa until steam ships and the Suez Canal changed sea routes. Comair, which has a licence agreement with British Airways, is a South African aviation company founded in 1946.