St Helena is a small island with a big history. Founded in 1502 it was made famous for hosting Napoleon’s in exile.
It is now about to start a new chapter with the opening of their first airport in 2016.
This 47 square mile volcanic island is a UK Overseas Territory situated in the South Atlantic. It is one of the world’s most remote destinations being 1,200 miles from the nearest land mass off the West coast of Africa.
Currently getting there is by a five day high-sea adventure on the last serving Royal Mail Ship in service, which as much an experience as the visit itself.
St Helena has stunning natural beauty and a contrasting spectacular setting. From the exterior, it is largely formidable volcanic terrain. The interior boasts contrasting lush emerald green vegetation. Making some area resembling moon landscapes and in the undulating green pasture of the interior – you could be back in Surrey.
According the St Helena Development agency there are approximately 1500 visitors at the moment – this is expected to quadruple in the next ten years following the airport completion.
Currently there is one modest main six bedroom hotel plus a few guest houses and a spread of self catering accommodation. There are plans afoot to build two exclusive 5 star hotels with a 110 rooms to accommodation the new visitors in 2016.
The islanders have is mixed feelings about the social and economic changes the airport will bring. I visited five years ago and found it a delightfully unspoilt. A British time warp, as it had a relaxing, safe, friendly and slow pace of life.
“We are really keen to get the word out about St Helena and come see it before the planes arrive!” Gillian Moore, a restaurateur on the island.