The Protea Hotel by Marriot Cape Town at Victoria Junction has become the latest victim of COVID-19. The iconic hotel has been forced to shut its doors by owner, Tsogo Sun. The group’s gambling arm, Tsogo Sun Gaming, runs many top hotels and casinos in South Africa, including Johannesburg’s MonteCasino and Gold Reef City, and Mykonos in the Cape.
According to area VP of Marriott International for the sub-Saharan region, Volker Heiden, the hotel will no longer be managed by Marriott International, and it will not form part of the Protea Hotels by Marriott brand. Instead, it has been handed back to the Tsogo Sun owned HPF Properties, who originally leased the property to Marriott.
Speaking about the unfortunate closure of the hotel, Tsogo Sun’s CEO, Marcel von Aulock, said that “it is expected” that the group will take the hotel in-house and reopen it in due course. However, his comments sounded vague, with no exact confirmation or timeline of the plan given.
COVID-19 Impacts SA Casino and Hospitality Industries
Volker Heiden told News24 that the impact of COVID19 on the local and global industries was “unprecedented”.
“Travel restrictions and social distancing efforts around the world have resulted in weaker demand and economic uncertainty,” he said. “Due to the financial impact of the situation and having explored the relevant avenues available to us, we must shut the doors at Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Victoria Junction.”
“These are indeed challenging times, and our thoughts are with the associates impacted by this decision. We value their hard work and dedication over the years and thank them for their service,” he added.
Industry analysts say that although the hotel was very popular among tourists due to its convenient location and proximity to the V&W Waterfront and the City Bowl area, it simply couldn’t survive the effects of continued lockdowns and travel restrictions. International flight and travel bans were imposed on the country, coupled with provincial border closures and beach bans. As a result, fewer local and international tourists travelled to the Mother City, and tourism suffered greatly.
Last year, one of the Hilton hotels in Cape Town was forced to shut down – another casualty of the pandemic.
Higher Hopes for Domestic Tourism
In the meantime, South Africa’s hotel and casino industries are pinning high hopes on the upcoming December season andbelieve that the saving grace will come from domestic tourism.
Last year this time, South Africa was heading into a period of rising pandemic numbers, which resulted in multiple beach closures throughout the country, early curfews and a booze ban. For some time, casinos and other public places had to close altogether, literally wiping out income and devasting the tourismand leisure sector.
This year, stakeholders are hoping for a far brighter outcome in the summer months. South Africa experienced a last third wave in the winter, and the sectors are hopeful that this will translate into a greatly reduced fourth wave in the coming months. The effects of a ramped-up vaccination campaign have also already been felt.