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THE SPIRIT OF Durban WRITTEN BY DONNIE RUST

eThekweni, Durban City the major focal point of South Africa’s east coast has been labelled South Africa’s Playground and for good reason. Offered up to the Indian Ocean by the Drakensburg Mountain range the city swelters in a subtropical belt that gives it the lush, tropical vegetation that seems always on the very verge of overflowing.


USHAKA MARINE WORLD

The destination of choice for international surfers seeking out the six footer swells that frequently stir up the bath-warm waters of the seas and for holiday makers wanting to enjoy the “fun-funfun” approach Durban takes to anything and everything that is a celebration of the natural heritage of the country.

N

othing embraces this

years the popularity of the site

more

Ushaka

has grown in leaps and bounds.

Marine World and I

than

So the adage of ‘if it’s not broke

caught up with Chief Executive

don’t fix it’ applies. But Shawn,

officer,

typically, is coolly confident.

Shawn

Thompson

regarding the resorts latest

“There are pros and cons to

developments and the plans for

every kind of change,” Shawn

the future.

reveals, “The only real concern recent

is the network of international

development has been a change

“The

most

linkages that we’ve established

in the managerial positioning,”

over the last decade. I want to

Shawn reveals, “Not the style

make sure that we keep these

or the players. Ushaka Marine

as solid as possible and to help

World’s

this, the City has guaranteed

management

was

us

“We’re launching a new Seaworld experience called Animal Encounter Island which is all about interaction.”

that

we

will

remain a commercial operation.” In essence this means that as long as they can keep the tourists

flooding

previously outsourced on a ten

through the doors that they can

year contract which has finally

control their own decisions as far

run out. Durban City has always

as spending and developments

owned the park, but now the

are concerned. It has been a

team of staff work for a city

triumph to keep the standards

owned entity.”

of the resort as high as they

Ushaka Marine World has

can be and to not just become

become one of the must see

another pen in the pocket of city

attractions

bureaucrats.

in

South

Africa,

bringing millions of tourists

“It does mean the emphasis

through its gates every year from

is now on us,” Shawn says, “Of

around the world. For the last ten

course we’re starting on a good


note because with the management being brought in house, its saved

a new Seaworld experience called Animal Encounter Island which is

a bill of R8 million rand per year. I have also been asked to provide a

all about interaction.”

five and a fifteen year plan to present to the City’s officials regarding

“Additionally to the current snorkelling and shark dive we offer.

the resort’s direction and further development. The City sees us as a

Here he could have a shark encounter, with nurse sharks so they’re

vital strategic tourist asset.”

safe,” he adds, “We are also planning an adventure trail that will include

One of the main approaches is by introducing new tourist

ziplines over the top of the resort. Further down the line a major new

attractions while at the same maintaining the current ones because

Seaworld exhibit around the R20 million mark will be added and this

the attractions here are not just rides but living animals that require a

will an entirely new concept.”

special kind of attention.

As far as rides are concerned:

Already boasting a restaurant styled as a sunken ship where you

“We’ve already invested R2million in the Body Tornado for our

can enjoy a gourmet meal while watching sharks swim passed, grinning

Wet and Wild rides and a new generation ride which I can’t reveal too

as if they know something you don’t, water rides that have you sliding

much will be added in the coming years”.

alongside and under the open top aquariums, bridge walks that give

There are a lot of significant ideas that are fitting into Shawn’s

you the chance to see the wonderous sea life including all the natural

plans for the resort but at the same time he has a meticulous attention

beauty of the South African coast. High intelligent dolphins and seals,

to detail. For a visitor, a guest, to be truly impressed they have to be

birds, fish, amphibians- they are all there in the resort. With the sound

given nothing to dislike. So, not only are the habitats for the animals

of the Indian Ocean only a stone’s throw away and the endlessly blue

cleaned and maintained on a daily basis but the cleaners work

sky overhead it’s difficult to spend any time at Ushaka Marine World

tirelessly to get into every nook and cranny throughout the resort.

and actually have an answer for “How could I make this better?”

Entertainment also forms a vital part of the guest experience and

That’s where Shawn comes into it.

uShaka is becoming known for its fun vibe and support for live music

“There’s a lot that we’re planning and not all of it I’m able to speak

– especially at the popular Wahooz venue on Durban’s magnificent

about,” he reveals coyly, “But what I can tell you is that we’re launching

promenade. “Everything counts,” Shawn concludes.

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Endeavour Magazine | 31


USHAKA MARINE WORLD 0027 31 328 8000 USHAKAMARINEWORLD.CO.ZA

www.littlegatepublishing.com 28 | Endeavour Magazine

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