The South African resorts will continue with shutdown until inter-provincial and international travel is reinstated
On Monday, Sun International – a JSE-listed casino and hospitality major – confirmed that its renowned Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town and Sun City resort in the North West will remained closed despite the government easing restrictions around leisure travel within the province and the extension of the Level 3 curfew to 10pm.Speaking to Moneyweb, Graham Wood,Sun International chief operating officer, said: “Of our 12 casinos across South Africa, 11 have reopened since July, except for Sun City. With the relaxation of restrictions to now allow for leisure travel within a province, we will now start reopening our hotels located within our casinos."
“Sun City, including The Palace of the Lost City, the Valley of the Waves, and all the hotels within the resort, however, will remain closed until inter-provincial travel is allowed. With most of Sun City’s business coming from Gauteng and other out-of-town visitors, including international tourists, the gaming and leisure market in Rustenburg in the North West is not big enough to justify the reopening of Sun City,” Wood said.
Sun International resort directly employs around 2300 staff, while Sun City’s independently run restaurants, employing between 800 to 1000 additional staff. However, the resort is currently operating on a “skeleton staff” as it remains shut.
“We also won’t be opening The Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town or The Maslow Hotel in Sandton while inter-provincial and international travel is banned. It doesn’t make financial sense.… There is not enough demand to justify these hotels reopening just yet,” added Wood.
Table Bay’s clientele consist of around 80% international tourists while the four-star Maslow mainly caters to business travellers and conferences.
“We are now planning for recovery mode,” he said. “The announcement from the tourism ministry regarding the lifting of intra-provincial travel restrictions is another step in the right direction. We welcome this move, together with the extension of the curfew from 9pm to 10pm, as most of our casino trade traditionally takes place at night.”
Moreover, Wood emphasised that Sun International has extensive Covid-19 health and safety protocols in place. Marcel von Aulock, CEO of Tsogo Sun Hotels, believes that it is “still too early to open many more hotels”. Only around 30 of its more than 100 hotels across South Africa are currently operating.
“Besides low demand due to travel restrictions, the alcohol ban also does not help… however, the hotels that are open are now accepting leisure guests [from within their provinces]. We have opened one or two of the smaller hotels connected to the casinos, like Silverstar and Gold Reef City and I think we’ll open Caledon in the Western Cape for weekends,” he said.