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Latest SA lockdown and trade restrictions take their toll on the already fragile tourism and hospitality sector

Sun International has decided to close its doors temporarily. Picture: Henk Kruger, ANA.

Sun International has decided to close its doors temporarily. Picture: Henk Kruger, ANA.

Published Jun 29, 2021


The tourism and hospitality industry is feeling the pinch of the latest lockdown and trade restrictions that were announced on Sunday and imposed on Monday.

The sector is one of the hardest hit as its members, which include restaurants, parks, casinos and hotels, have been ordered to either totally shutdown or significantly curb their operations after Ramaphosa announced the adjustment of the level 4 restrictions on Sunday.

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While some establishments are closing temporarily for the next two weeks, some have shut their doors permanently.

Among those that decided to close their doors temporarily is Sun International. In a statement, the hotel group said all its restaurants and casino properties would be temporarily closed from Monday, in line with new Covid-19 regulations.

"The group has also taken a decision to temporarily close its hotels and resorts, including Sun City Resort and Wild Coast Sun," it said.

Sun International chief operating officer, Graham Wood, said: “The new regulations require our casinos and restaurants to close, but given the new restrictions on leisure travel into and out of Gauteng, alcohol and the curfew, our hotels and resorts will struggle to operate, so we have taken a decision to temporarily close them too.

"We are mindful that government is concerned about the risk of transmission and the need to curtail the rise in new infections. However, these restrictions will have a further negative impact on our tourism industry, the thousands of people employed, and the surrounding local communities. We remain hopeful that the worst of the latest Covid-19 outbreak will have subsided 14 days from now so that we can safely reopen our hotels, resorts and casinos".

The group said its online SunBet sports betting platform would continue to be operational.

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"Existing hotel reservations that are scheduled for arrival up to and including July 15 can be changed to an alternative date for stay by November 30 or cancelled at no charge. All deposits will be refunded in case of cancellation. Similarly, Sun Vacation Club reservations can be postponed to a future date or space banked," the group added.

Meanwhile, SANParks also announced changes to its hospitality and tourism services in its various national parks.

SANParks acting chief executive Luthando Dziba said: “SANParks in complying with government regulations has made the requisite amendments particularly for travellers to our national parks originating from the Gauteng province.”

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The rules for clients from Gauteng with exiting reservations are as follows:

· There will not be a blanket cancellation of bookings for guests residing in Gauteng. Instead, those holding current reservations valid for the period June 28 to July 11 will be contacted directly via telephone and email to establish whether their bookings should be postponed or cancelled.

· Guests are also encouraged to contact reservations on 012 428 9111 or 082 233 9111 or email [email protected] if they are unsure about their current reservation.

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· Where cancellation is the only option, cancellation fees will not be charged and clients will be provided with the option to claim a full refund or for their deposit to be kept on credit-on-hold for use on future reservations.

· Gauteng residents currently in occupation of SANParks accommodation facilities will be permitted to remain in the parks for the duration of their reserved stay, as the regulations permit for persons who were outside the province when the regulations came into force, a once-off trip to return to their places of residence.

SANParks said all gatherings at beaches and picnic sites within the national parks are prohibited.

"The dining facilities and restaurants within the national parks will operate on the basis of off-site consumption and therefore no sit-down dining will be allowed," it said.

Dziba said SANParks understood the inconvenience and the frustration the changes might cause, but their reservations and park teams on the ground would be on hand to assist.

"The spread of Covid-19 has affected all South Africans and in order to minimise it, we need to make sacrifices," he said.