Sun City hopes first guest will revive tourism industry
GAMING group Sun International, the owner of landmark casino complexes in South Africa such as Sun City, GrandWest and Boardwalk, has welcomed its first US tourist since March.
The traveller, Stuff Cleague, is a health worker from Buffalo, New York. She said she had travelled extensively throughout the Americas and the Caribbean and this was her first trip to Africa.
In its JSE Sens results statement in March, Sun International announced that it had suffered a financial loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group, along with other gaming and hospitality groups, was forced to shut operations in 2020 but faced ongoing trade restrictions which included bans on liquor, curfews, and social distancing rules.
The results released last month showed that the group suffered a R1.1 billion headline loss due to lockdown restrictions.
Last week, the group announced that it would open for day visitors from Sunday to Friday in addition to the weekdays. The resort opened on Sunday, April 11.
Sun International’s chief operating officer for hospitality, Graham Wood, said he hoped that the arrival of the American guest would revive the battered tourism industry.
“The effect of the pandemic has been unbelievable. If anyone had told us a year ago that Sun City would close its doors for five months, after 40 years of 24/7 operation, we would not have believed them. We hope that everyone in America who hears Ms Cleague’s story will be encouraged and inspired to visit our country,” he said.
Sun City general manager Brett Hoppé said the industry needed people like Stuff Cleague to set the trend of travelling again.
“Easter was the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic broke, that the resort was above 98%. We hope that Stuff is the vanguard of a flood of new tourists,” Hoppé said.
Thompsons Africa general manager Ryan Thole said travelling to Africa was picking up slowly.
“We should start to see some recovery by the third quarter. Interest is from North America and Africa currently,” he said.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE