Hospitality and leisure group Sun International has been awarded by The Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) for the group’s extensive and world-class Covid-19 controls introduced across all hotel and casino properties.

Sun International Health and Safety Specialist Sheena O’Brien was also awarded as the runner up in the ‘Risk Specialist of the Year’ category at the same ceremony, for successfully guiding the group through the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the biggest risk challenges in its 53 years of existence. 

The awards were in the Industry Specific Risk Initiative category for the Tourism, Hospitality & Gaming industry. 

Sun International Board and Management’s response to the global health crisis was swift and decisive, starting even before the State of National Disaster was declared.

“From the outset, our priority was to protect our guests and our staff. We closely monitored the advice from local and international health organisations and experts, and ensured that we followed best-practice for the industry.  We are extremely proud to receive this award as it recognises the weeks and months of research and hard work that went into making our properties safe,” said Graham Wood, COO of Hospitality at Sun International. 

“Sheena and her team deserve their accolades. The team’s efforts positioned us as an industry leader in Gaming and Hospitality. They took expert advice and translated into practical action, and it was thanks to the protocols they put in place that government allowed our casinos to reopen as early as July, followed six weeks later by our hotels.”

Sun International immediately formed a Crisis Task Team comprising of senior executives, and their Risk Committee continually reviewed and updated the Business Continuity plans in response to Covid-19.

The hospitality and gaming group supported government’s initiatives to “flatten the curve” and ensured effective engagement with government, regulators, partners, customers and staff. “We demonstrated resilience and adaptability through the regulatory changes, our ability to collaborate with industry during the lockdown and ensure proactive implementation at all operations leading up to the reopening of the business.”

These activities resulted in the company being able to significantly minimise the risk of Covid-19 risk.

A comprehensive Covid-19 Policy and Health plan was developed and published on the company’s website, and implemented by the business operations, demonstrating Sun International as an industry leader in the industry. 

“Tourism was seen by government as being the highest risk industry and scheduled to reopen only once the national lockdown would be relaxed from Level 5 to Level 1. The bar was set high for our industry and we took the lead. Through continued lobbying efforts, the industry achieved the green light for Casinos to open under an enhanced Level 3 of lockdown, achieving a significantly earlier reopening than expected,” said Wood.

The development of the Covid-19 policy and health plan, and the subsequent sharing of the plan on their website, as well as with government and regulators in other countries where the group operates, set Sun International apart from its competitors, said judges.

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