British journalists visit to SA.

It’s taken a long time coming, but finally a handful of KZN residential developers and their Western Cape counterparts backed up by the Tourism, KZN Natal , have got their act together in seriously courting overseas buyers.

For years now local developers, and estate agents too ever in search of opening up local markets to foreigners have concentrated their marketing efforts on property exhibitions rather than joint overseas marketing campaigns. Finally some cosying up by four of Durban’s big four – Moreland Properties, The éLan Group, Zimbali and Global Properties in a unified effort has produced what could possibly be a masterstroke in prising open KZN’s property market to the punt and pound laden Irish and British buyers.

Mindful that the impact of editorial on newspaper readers is between nine to 15 times greater than that of advertising, the big four, along with four equally enlightened Cape counterparts, have financed the visit to this country of five leading British and one Irish property writer to expose them first hand to the quality of a second home market or a retirement-in-the sun option.

Digging deep in their pockets – the courtship was not only intended only to spike up foreign purchasing in the local market, but also to hammer home tourism opportunities and a “from the horse’s mouth” update on the government’s efforts toward social housing.

The six highly seasoned journos representing The Times and Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Sunday Express, Sunday Business Post (Ireland) and A Place in the Sun Magazine. - were feted with five star accommodation, helicopter viewing, an evening cruise, unfortunately beached through bad weather and, inevitably the height of the KZN leg, a night in plush Phinda game reserve

Cape Town’s packed itinerary included an audience with Saths Modley, last minute stand in for his boss, Lindiwe Sisulu, for an overview on the state of the nation’s commitment to social housing.

Comparison of SA housing and the more popular holiday-home markets for the Brits has always been vague, mainly because of lack of expert assessment. But this time with the likes of writers specialising only in overseas holiday homes the assessment is intended by the hosts (mindful that some 20 billion pounds was spent by Brits on overseas home last year) to deliver through newspaper columns a definitive interpretation of the best of the local market.

This, the journos saw first hand through the super luxury markets, such as the lush Zimbali Forest Estate, the seemingly never ending myriad of Moreland Property’s initiatives to lifestyle quality, the dedication to eco environment being unveiled at Simbithi and Blythedale Resorts and the Hollywood finishes in the dream-along- apartments of The Pearls in Umhlanga.

Reporting back, tour manager Stefan Botha of éLan says the well-travelled team were particularly impressed by the overall care shown by developers toward preservation of the environment and their commitment to stimulating local employment. Virtually a brand new concept to them were themed eco estates. These drew high interest.

As the visit unravelled Botha said the journolists’ views that South Africa could fulfil any of the Brits and Irish holiday home aspirations firmed, especially from the speculative investor pespective, which is currently one of the main drivers in the Brits urchasing overseas holiday homes.

Given the success of the venture and the hoped for columns of positive reporting in the British media following the visit Botha is confident the KZN quartet o developers will finance further ventures and the possibility of others joining the campaign.
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