Sun International last week confirmed that it had entered into discussions with the SA Commercial and Catering Allied Union (SACCAWU) over the proposed closure of its Fish River Sun resort near Port Alfred.
Sun International Chief Operating Officer Thabo Mosololi said the resort had over the past few years recorded escalating costs and declining revenues in a depressed economic environment, with little prospect of financial recovery. The option to sell the resort had been complicated by an outstanding land claim, making this option unviable.
Mosololi said it had considered several cost-saving and revenue improvement alternatives which had either been implemented or rejected. However, these had not improved the financial position of the resort and the company therefore had no alternative but to close the business.
“Economic pressure and subdued trading, taken together with the land claim uncertainty, have made cross-subsidisation by the Boardwalk in Port Elizabeth increasingly unaffordable,” Mosololi said.
He said Sun International would engage with the union in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, and had advised other stakeholders, including the Eastern Cape Gambling & Betting Board.
The Fish River Sun was opened in 1989 and the proposed closure would affect some 126 positions at the resort.
“The resort will close finally at the end of November 2017 unless significant progress is made on interventions proposed by the Minister of Rural Development to continue with the operations,” Mosololi said.
Among those affected by the closure is the karate community in the region, with the East Cape Shotokan-Ryu having organised 11 annual SECKO Championships, five National Championships as well as seminar by international instructors at the Hotel.
ECSR head Gary Grapentin said in a newsletter to members, “It is estimated that each of these events attracts at least a thousand competitors and spectators to the Sunshine Coast. The closure of the Hotel will be a great loss to the region and it would seem that it is also the end of an era for the greatly-loved SECKO Karate Championship.
“My thoughts are also with the Hotel’s staff who are facing tremendous uncertainty at the moment.”
He said ECSR would next year launch the Sunshine Coast Karate Open (SCKO), a premier karate series with at least two annual championships – one in East London and the other in Port Elizabeth.
“I am currently in the process of securing top-class venues for these championship events,” Grapentin said.