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  •  Group expects minimal effects of COVID-19
  • Says its marketing push of “don’t cancel, defer” has worked for them

TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO

Despite experiencing difficulties in generating revenue due to travel restrictions meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, eco-tourism outfit Chobe Holdings Limited is hopeful that it will bounce back to business strongly as soon as it fully resumes operations.

According to the group, while travel into Botswana is currently banned , the  marketing push of “Don’t Cancel, Defer” has been largely successful  for them in ensuring that they do not entirely lose clientele.

This is after more than 70 percent  of the confirmed bookings that were scheduled to travel in the  April to June 2020 period  deferred their travel to 2021. “Directors  are therefore confident of a fairly quick recovery when it is deemed safe for international travel to resume,” the group said in its audited financial results for the year ended February 2020 released last Friday.

Due to the COVID-19  pandemic, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) predicts a  22 percent fall in international tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2020. According to WTO, that could lead to an annual decline of between 60 percent and 80 percent, compared with 2019 figures.

WTO  anticipates  that signs of recovery will start emerging in the last quarter of 2020, but mostly in 2021, with leisure tourism expected to recover quickly. The recovery will,  however,  be dependent on containment of the virus, easing of travel restrictions and re-opening of borders.

Meanwhile, the group announced that it  recorded  a 10 percent revenue increase for the period ended February 2020,  compared to the same period in the prior year. According to the group, the revenue increase is a result of better achieved bednight rates in US Dollar terms and depreciation of the Pula against the US Dollar.

But, compared to the same period in the prior year due to increased competition and perhaps the effects of negative press around the lifting of the hunting suspension, occupancy remained fairly flat.

The group’s financials show that operating costs were contained even though they increased by three percent. The tourism operator parted with P45.9 million financed from internally-generated cash flows on the purchase of game drive vehicles, a Cessna Caravan, and significantly improving existing buildings and equipment. A further P15.4 million was spent on purchasing two game farms in the period under review.

Chobe Holdings Limited owns and operates eleven eco-tourism lodges and camps on leased land in northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia through its subsidiaries. The holding company operates under two well-known hospitality brands, Desert & Delta Safaris and Ker & Downey Botswana.

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