Plans for a multi-million-rand Ferris wheel on the beachfront promenade in Durban have been announced by the City of Ethekwini.
The project, which is being funded and managed privately, is expected to begin construction in July, and will launch in February, 2023.
That’ll put the opening of the Durban Eye just in time for the Easter Holidays, but just a little too late to fully benefit from the Durban cruise season, which runs from November to March.
The project takes inspiration from the London Eye and the UAE’s own Ain Dubai, which sits on Blue Waters Island, overlooking the new Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal.
The London Eye, or the Millennium Wheel, is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom,with over three million visitors annually, while the Ain Dubai has become an iconic part of the Dubai skyline.
“This will offer tourists a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the city,” said the City of Ethekwini. “The 60-meter-high attraction will boast 30 to 36 eight-seater cabins. The full rotation of the wheel will take 20 minutes. Retail businesses will surround the structure.”
“It will be situated at the southern end of the beachfront, bordering the harbour entrance channel. The site looks toward the Bluff headland and will welcome cargo and passenger cruise ships into the newly built passenger cruise terminal, the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal. The position of the Durban Eye aims to attract visitors to the city centre,” it added.
The Durban Eye is not a government initiative and will not be funded with taxpayer money, but has been welcomed by the city, which is working with the private sector to encourage investment in the local tourism and hospitality sector.
Other developments in the pipeline for the city include the opening of the 200-bedroom Radisson Blu Hotel at the Oceans project in uMhlanga ahead of the winter season in June this year.
“The R650 million hotel has 20,000 black investors, and the city will spend R100 million on public transport facilities and the upgrade of nearby roads. The overall investment is more than R1 billion from the private sector,” it said.
The city said it is also working with the region’s route development committee to attract more international flights and to enhance intra-Africa trade.
The plans include reactivating the Air Namibia flights and reigniting talks with Qatar and Emirates airlines to fly direct to Durban again.
Durban needs to build its portfolio of direct flights from international destinations in order to better position the city as a homeport for cruises. Currently only MSC Cruises sails roundtrip from Durban during the annual cruise season.