Tsogo Sun Hotels is to take over the Mount Grace in Magaliesburg, the Edward in Durban and the Protea Hotel Hazyview in Mpumalanga and is committed to their long-term sustainability, said Marcel Von Aulock, CEO of Tsogo Sun Hotels.
This follows news on Friday (June 19) that global hotel group, Marriott International, was permanently shutting the doors of these three hotels as “a direct result of the economic fallout around COVID-19”.
In a statement issued on Friday, the group said the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry had been unprecedented, and travel restrictions and social distancing efforts around the world had resulted in weaker demand and economic uncertainty.
South Africa has been on stringent lockdown for close to 90 days, with the tourism sector lobbying (via various campaigns) for a phased reopening of the tourism sector, which directly and indirectly is responsible for 1.5 million jobs and is one of the country’s main contributors to GDP (8.6%).
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last Wednesday (June 17) that registered and licensed accommodation facilities would be allowed to open under Advanced Level Three lockdown regulations, but there is still no clarity as to when this will be implemented and under what circumstances.
Responding to the announcement by Marriott that it was closing these hotels, former Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom, tweeted: “And more will shut down if hotels and guest houses are not allowed to accommodate leisure tourists soon.
“What’s the delay? The President has made the announcement but, as yet, no action.”
Von Aulock said Tsogo Sun Hotels had noted the announcement by Marriott. “We have also noted the distress this has caused within the travel and tourism industry and the communities where these hotels are situated, as expressed on various social media platforms.”
He pointed out that the hotel industry globally, and in South Africa, was undoubtedly experiencing one of the most disruptive and difficult periods in its history, adding that it would take some time to recover to its previous activity levels.
“With the recent announcement by President Ramaphosa of relaxation of lockdown regulations, several of our hotels have opened but are operating on limited capacity and will remain so until demand patterns and flight activities in both the domestic and, ultimately, the international markets begin to normalise.”
According to Von Aulock, the hotel group would, however, continue to plan for a phased reactivation of properties, with the full portfolio expected to be open within 12 to 18 months. “Our portfolio will now include these three iconic properties in our planning.”
Tsogo Sun Hotels – via its subsidiary Hospitality Property Fund – owns a controlling stake in the three hotels with which Marriott is terminating its relationship.
“We remain committed to these properties and have full faith in their viability post the COVID-19 pandemic and are delighted that we will be able to bring them under the Tsogo management portfolio and fully integrate them into our distribution and management network once the conditions for their re-activation are achieved,” said Von Aulock.