The threat of contracting the Ebola virus, compounded by the misunderstanding of Botswana’s geography and demography in relation to other African countries that have recorded Ebola cases, is having a negative impact on future bookings for Chobe Holdings Company.
The Botswana Stock Exchange-listed company raised this concern among the future prospects in its unaudited financial statement for the period ended August 31st which was released on Wednesday. This is despite an increase in confirmed and provisional bookings for the year ending 28th February 2015, when compared to the same stage in the last proceeding year. The booking suggested a satisfactory increase in revenue for the group to be achieved in the second half of this financial year.
Chief Executive who is also Chairman Jonathan Gibson said “to manage this threat the group has adjusted its cancellation policy to allow a full refund where a traveller declines to travel to Botswana in the event that an Ebola outbreak is confirmed in Botswana by the World Health Organisation.” This strategy, which has been adopted by all industry players, is designed to encourage travellers to continue to book for their holidays and not hold off for fear of the threat of Ebola.
In addition, Gibson explains that, “the quantum of the impact on future revenue and/or profitability cannot be reliably estimated and will only manifest in the unlikely event of a confirmed Ebola outbreak in Botswana.” In December 2013 two of its subsidiaries submitted tenders for the lease, utilisation and management of Camp Okavango and Shinde Camp for non-consumptive tourism purposes. The tender results are yet to be announced. Leases for the two camps have in the meantime been extended to 31st December 2014. As a result, shareholders have been cautioned that the non-renewable of these leases would have a negative impact on the group’s profitability.
However, the company’s directors maintained with confidence that the leases will be re-awarded to the Company’s subsidiaries under terms and conditions that are acceptable to the group, given that the subsidiaries have first right of refusal on renewal of those leases. He said the phased modernisation of the group’s fleet of aircraft has been completed. It is anticipated that going forward, customer satisfaction will be enhanced and maintenance costs associated with older aircraft will reduce. BG Business has learnt that the group spent about P12million financed from internally generated cash flows on significantly improving existing equipment buildings, as well as the purchase of additional equipment and new aircraft.
Meanwhile, the group posted an impressive 24 percent increase in revenue as a consequence of higher achieved rates, a weaker Pula against the Dollar and an increased capacity following the acquisition of Moremi Safaris (Pty) Ltd in August 2013. The group also saw a 17 percent increase in the occupancy levels. In the previous week, the Motswedi Securities firm confirmed in its third quarter economic review that the tourism companies were among the top gainers on the Domestic Company Index in the local bourse.
Chobe Holdings was no exception together with its competitor Wilderness Safaris Group. Chobe Holdings are the owners and operators of 11 eco-tourism lodges and camps on a leased land in Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia.