Fiji Sun – 17th January 2015
Story by John Ross
Nigel Skeggs, the Managing Director of Port Denarau Marina, has announced a long-term strategic plan for the future development and growth of the Port Denarau Marina.
This plan is currently with the Government and the Lands Department waiting final approval but planning is well advanced.
Land in excess of that required for the current plans has been secured by the company to allow for further expansion in the future.
“There have been some really hard times, events such as cyclones that caused significant damage to the infrastructure, changes in government policies and severe issues in the Fiji tourism industry, but we persevered through all these problems and continued to grow the business.
“Now, with the results of the general elections in September 2014, investor confidence has surged and we believe that the future of the tourism industry is very positive.
“Since Port Denarau Marina is an important part of the Fiji tourism infrastructure, providing access to all the resorts in the Yasawas and Mamanucas as well as the operators of tourism experiences such as tours, cruising, fishing and other marine based businesses, yachting and the constantly growing international cruise ship visits, we believe the time has come for us to invest heavily to further develop the infrastructure at Denarau”
The development will be staged over several years, but to successfully build the infrastructure to meet the future demands it is essential to have a carefully thought out long-term plan that provides the services that will be required in the future, but also has a big impact on the quality of the environment and facilities that Fiji can offer.
The development must be at least as good as that offered by any other destination being offered to tourists from Fiji’s source markets.
All the planning is solidly tourist focused and world-best practice has been used when evaluating the different options available.
Port Denarau Marina has always been very environmentally aware and has, in recent years, had a separate environmental plan in place. The measures that exist in the marina to protect the environment are strict, and the measure used is that the environment must not only be protected but it has to be actively improved.
To achieve this objective the marina adopted a New Zealand program called the “Clean Marina Programme”, which was developed by marine environmental experts there to ensure the health of the many of marinas in the country and help to keep the total marine environment protected.
This program has been carefully monitored and any new practices developed in New Zealand or Australia have been added to those followed in Fiji.
There is a large boat yard as part of the marina and a number of functions are carried out there that have the potential to damage the marine environment in the port area. This includes activities such as anti-fouling vessels, sanding and paint removal and oil leakage from engines and other mechanical units on the vessels.
To ensure that there is no leakage of these contaminants into the harbor, all surface water within the boat yard is collected by a series of drains and delivered to sumps. A new system is currently being installed where water is then passed through a process that removes all contaminants and holds them for collection and disposed of in an approved site, while the clean water is returned to the marine environment. While this process is expensive, it is deemed critical by the marina management in ensuring that their business grows.
The marina is now entering an even more advanced stage, where the harbor is declared a protected fish environment and measures are being put in place to ensure the health and growth of the fish population in the area.
A baseline study already conducted has shown that there is remarkable diversity of fish varieties currently enjoying the waters of the harbor and that it has developed into a significant breeding ground. The protection program will be expanded in the future through Australia’s “Fish Friendly Marina” accreditation.
Another area that has been considered is the protection of the mangrove environment in the immediate area and the master plan for future development includes significant mangrove areas placed under protection as well as practices to ensure the health of those areas.
Nigel Skeggs says “We are very aware and conscious of the environmental significance of our area and are committed to maintaining the Mangroves around the perimeter of our development. We are interested to see the outcome of the proposed new Mangrove Resource Management Act and hope to work closely with Government to demonstrate how significant waterfront developments can be achieved with minimal impact on important ecological diversity.”
The development is sited on land on the mainland and immediately adjacent to the harbor. Access is by a road to the right when you approach along Denarau Road about 300 meters before the Denarau bridge. There’s a small river running at right angles to the proposed new road and the development land starts immediately the bridge is crossed.
The Master Plan
The area covered by the Master Plan has a significant length of frontage to the harbor and extends inland. In the initial stages the development will be focused on the land closest to the water, but later plans will move further inland. The master plan concept is for the available site to be developed in a number of distinct stages.
There are extensive stands of Mangrove on the site and the scheme seeks to retain large areas particularly along the waterfront. This will be enhanced for public pleasure with the inclusion of a Mangrove Experimental Centre of 30,000m2. The mangroves will be made accessible to the public by special raised wooden walkways that allow sightseeing deep within the mangrove stands without the danger of the visitors damaging the delicate environment.
The Sailing Club
A sailing club will be built at the North end of the marina with a hard stand area of 5,000m2 where club vessels can be stored and a building to house both the office, clubroom and gear storage facility. This area will have a large ramp to a sheltered section to the harbor. It is proposed that this facility will provide sailing lessons and more advanced instruction to people who want to learn to sail, particularly children and young adults. Its main aim is to encourage the sport of sailing in Fiji. And a fleet of small training yachts have already been purchased.
A marina, protected from prevailing winds by a barrier of Mangroves, will be built with an access from the harbor. The marina will provide 200 berths on four pontoon arms reaching out from the marina village. Water depth at low tide will be sufficient to accommodate the large ocean going yachts expected to use the marina. The marina will provide the facilities currently available in the leading marinas overseas.
The Marina Village
A village with stores, cafes, restaurants and retail outlets will be developed adjacent to the marina, facing the Mangrove Reserve and spreading around the land side of the Marina. This will also include office areas and a large residential unit precinct with 100 two and three bedroom apartments, a lot of open space, car park, pool and dedicated parking.
The Maritime School
At the end of the marina village and adjacent to the boat yard, a Maritime School will be established. The positioning is ideal for the teaching of maritime subjects and the objective of the facility is to train people in the trades used in boat building and maintenance of vessels typically used in the Fiji waters. It is proposed that students will gain practical skills in both the boat yard and the marina, working under the supervision of highly qualified tradesmen.
The boat yard
A very large hard stand area will be provided by the boat yard with various haul out devices, the largest of which will be a 600 tonnes travel lift capable of lifting any of the vessels currently operating in the western division. There will be a line of workshops, and these will be available for lease to the different trades required by boat owners. These workshops will each be two stories.
At the far end of the yard there will a number of buildings for small boat storage and warehouses for goods and materials. All the latest environmental protection practices will be applied to the yard operations. The objective is to provide a service that is equal to overseas yards so the cruising and Superyachts can have work carried out in Fiji, adding to the economy.
A football stadium capable of holding 20,000 people will be built next to the boat yard. The facility will have covered stands and open seating with spacious grounds surrounding it on all sides and a number of mangrove stands to provide green cover and a windbreak. There will be adequate vehicle parking close to the entrance and access to public transport.
The Industrial and Commercial Zones
Inland from the marina and boat yard there will be a series of buildings designed to provide leasing space for both commercial and Industrial use. Different areas of space will be available and most of the buildings will be two stories. Convenient vehicle parking will be provided close to the units.
The residential apartments
The Master Plan allows for 36 residential apartments to be built on the harbor edge with spectacular views to the west of both the harbor and beyond that Nadi Bay. Each apartment will have a personal parking place and there will be a number of nearby places for visitor vehicle parking. Green space is used to add to the attraction of the area.
The Master Plan allows for 36 luxury apartments to be built on the edge of the harbor, with spectacular views across the harbor and out to Nadi Bay. Each apartment will have a personal parking place and nearby parking for visitor vehicles. The apartments will be to a high standard and set in a delightful environment.
The concept of the fully integrated development is the culmination of a great deal of research on the best practice worldwide for this sort of integrated tourism, residential and commercial project, and will significantly add to the product variety available in Fiji. Port Denarau, now a very important link in the tourist transport system, is about to grow to provide even better services, facilities and standards.
– John Ross is a Nadi-based marketing expert. He specialises in tourism and aviation.