By David Robinson

Port Denarau Marina, Fiji’s leading yachting hub, has applied for planning approval relating to a large, long-term, multimillion-dollar investment plan. The project is anticipated to take 10 years or more to complete and will involve a Fiji$200 ($100m)-plus investment on a 50ha site.

Commenting on the project, Nigel Skeggs, managing director of Port Denarau Marina, told The Fiji Sun: “This development is a long-term plan for the extension of our current services and to allow Fiji to compete for the repairs and maintenance business for vessels, which will bring in significant foreign reserves to Fiji’s economy. It will also allow us to upskill the current workforce, creating hundreds of jobs.”

The development site, located directly opposite the present marina facilities, is a 50ha area of undeveloped land and major civil works will have to be done before construction of the new facilities can start. It is a multi-faceted project involving a 200-berth marina, a large boat yard, a maritime academy and sailing school. There will also be residential apartments, an industrial and office zone, a marina village with retail outlets, and a 20,000-seat stadium.

The development also has an important environmental feature with the retention of mangrove swamps, which are significant in providing a sheltered area for fish spawning. In total the mangrove swamp area will cover 70,000sq m.

The new marina will offers berths for various yacht sizes up to superyachts. The new boat yard will be equipped with a 600-tonne travel lift and offer various haul-out systems. A range of workshops will provide facilities for all the necessary trades for yacht repairs and refits, as well as small boat storage and warehouses. The aim of the new boat yard is to provide a service quality equivalent to that of international yards.

It is not certain when Port Denarau will hear about the planning approval, but it has already spent nine years securing the development lease from the Fiji Lands Department. Once approval is given, it is expected to take three or four years to prepare the site through dredging and backfilling, along with a new road and bridge to provide good access. In the second phase, investors will be sought to share the cost of the various elements of the total project.

The whole aim behind this major development is to enhance Port Denarau Marina’s already strong contribution to Fiji’s growing tourism industry. Last year, 46 superyachts visited the marina and this number is expected to increase in coming years as more and more superyachts sail to the Pacific Islands and Asia. The development will give Fiji an all-embracing yachting and superyacht hub.