The England football team may have confirmed their place in next year’s World Cup, but there are new doubts over plans to move the QE2 to South Africa to provide accommodation for visiting fans.
The former Cunard liner, which retired from service last year, has been in Dubai since November, waiting for work to start to convert it into a luxury floating hotel.
The global financial crisis placed those plans on hold, just as they put a stop to other building work in Dubai. New owners Nakheel then announced the ship would move to Cape Town for 18 months, in response to suggestions from FIFA president Sepp Blatter that there was a shortage of hotel accommodation for supporters, and work began to ensure the vessel was seaworthy for the transit.
Last week, however, South African tourist authorities renewed criticism of the plan, saying it would take much-needed income out of the country.
“Instead of bringing in the QE2, we should be looking at getting more local and township accommodation service providers on board,” says Tourism Department member Eliza Van Lingen.
Cape Town port manager Sanjay Govan said the port authority had informed the vessel’s owners that, because of space constraints, it was unsafe to berth the ship in any of its terminals.
A Nakheel spokesman said today: “As a stationary hotel, QE2 will bring significant tourism, employment and business benefits to South Africa and, as she will be run as a local enterprise by a local operator, she will also bring additional tax revenue to the country. Profit generated from the ship will remain in South Africa and will benefit the South African economy.
“QE2 is currently in excellent condition. Final preparations to ensure her full compliance with international safety standards and corresponding certification are underway and we are confident that QE2 can be berthed safely in Cape Town harbour.”
QE2’s problems follow an earlier announcement that plans to use two Holland America ships as floating hotels in Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth had been given a red card.