Editorial: Time to re-think centre’s offering

It is never something anyone wants to hear – looming job losses due to struggling business conditions.

The fact that Nelson Mandela Bay’s prime beachfront attraction is having to look at cutting its workforce by more than a third will naturally be cause for deep anxiety among the 252 employees and their families who stand to be affected.

But the squeeze on the Sun Boardwalk Casino should also come as no surprise.

It was becoming increasingly inevitable, given the changing face of the gambling industry in the city, just as has happened elsewhere in the country.

When it opened amid grand fanfare 17 years ago, the casino – which had its fair share of detractors given the socio-economic implications of gaming halls – drew visitors in droves.

But with electronic bingo terminals popping up in malls and pubs, numbers of visitors – especially in the last three years – have steadily declined.

Now it is time for Sun International to take a hard look at what can be done to reinvent an existing attraction on a prime piece of land which doesn’t rely chiefly on the spin of its many cherry machine wheels for profitability.

At the moment there is little more than a clutch of restaurants, cinemas and high-end boutiques along with limited children’s entertainment to lure families.

A complete re-think of how to transform the complex into a recreation centre with far broader appeal is crucial if it is to survive.

And that surely has to revolve around affordability.

Given the vast global experience of the casino’s owners in the leisure and tourism industry it would not appear to be an insurmountable task.

But these are tough times – and wallets are already stretched.

It’s going to need some innovative thinking to re-envision what could, once again, be a job creator.

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