SOUTH AFRICA: Following an open tender, national freight operator Transnet has selected tourism, leisure and gaming group Sun International to develop and implement a marketing strategy for The Blue Train luxury train service.

The agreement with Sun International was signed on September 8 and will run for up to 18 months. Transnet hopes to reposition the five-star service to be ‘at the centre of the global tourism market’, and develop a business case for recapitalisation which may include procuring new trainsets in partnership with private-sector investors and operators.

Transnet retained The Blue Train when its other passenger activities were transferred to Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa in 2006-08. However the current rolling stock is almost 40 years old, and according to Transnet has become too expensive to maintain and operate.

‘Given the magnitude of The Blue Train’s impact on the marketability of South African tourism globally, this partnership could extend beyond tourism into hospitality, entertainment and skills development in the industry’, said Transnet acting Group CEO Siyabonga Gama. ‘We searched for a suitable partner with relevant experience and expertise to manage and grow The Blue Train. Our view is that Sun International, as a major player in the tourism and hospitality industry is best placed to articulate our branding vision.’