Casino operators gamble on better tourist numbers

December 15, 2015, 4:59am

By Priscilla Malinga, Business Day Live
Photo: Daily Dispatch

CASINO operators are betting billions that tourism is about to pick up from the doldrums caused by visa regulations and other woes.

Projects include Sun International’s R3.6bn Menlyn, Pretoria, shopping centre, which is tied to its Morula Sun gambling licence.

"We looked at Pretoria and noticed that there were no five-star hotels — we are planning on changing that," Sun International chief operating officer Rob Collins said. This investment is in addition to its recent R800m refurbishment of Sun City. Tsogo Sun has budgeted R12bn for renovations, expansions and acquisitions.

"Due to the weak rand, it has become cheaper to buy a hotel and renovate it than building one," CEO Marcel von Aulock said.

The group has just reopened Sandton Sun Hotel and Gold Reef City, which underwent major renovations worth about R1bn.

"The latest project is a 500-room hotel to be built in Cape Town during the course of 2016," Mr von Aulock said.

Legacy Hotel group recently said it would invest R1.5bn to refurbish hotels owned by Zimbabwe’s African Sun group. Legacy signed a 10-year management deal to renovate the Elephant Hills resort, Troutbeck Resort, The Kingdom at Victoria Falls Hotel and Hwange Safari Lodge in Zimbabwe.

It is also investing in "The Leonardo", which CEO Bart Dorrenstein said would tower over the richest square mile in Africa. "The Leonardo will be the Sandton’s tallest building and has been designed to become Africa’s ‘live, work and play’ address," Mr Dorrenstein said.

Peermont marketing and regional operations executive Mark Jakins said the group was also refreshing and refurbishing its hotels and casinos.

"A comprehensive preventative maintenance programme is always pursued in our properties to ensure they are in superior condition," he said.

Another investor is Marriot International, which is planning to open 30 hotels across Southern Africa.