Available bednights have increased by 14% to 155 226 (from 136 038 in 2016) and its sales mix has changed materially; with the Tour Series and Governors’ categories combined now accounting for 35% of total bednights sold (up from 25% last year).
Capital expenditure amounted to P121 million (€9.8 million) for the period, with approximately P23 million (€1.8 million) spent on new camps and P71 million (€5.7 million) on rebuilding existing camps. This is expected to taper off at the end of the financial year following the completion of Bisate Lodge in Rwanda and Mombo Camp in Botswana.
Chief Financial Officer, Ami Azoulay, says, “Tourism activity in Southern Africa is at high levels. Our forward occupancy for the rest of the year is encouraging. The Group’s strategic intent is to invest in African tourism and we have tailored our business model to have the most impact in this environment. However, this model is vulnerable to events that impact on travellers; such as the political and economic uncertainty in Kenya and Zimbabwe, and the volatile currencies.”
He adds that while the impact of the exchange rate on the revenue line was negligible, it was far more significant on their bottom line. “This was as a result of the stronger pula and rand pushing real selling rates down. This impacted negatively on performance in South Africa and Botswana in particular. Botswana’s performance was down 2%, while South Africa declined 23%. Kenya recorded a decline of 62% following the inclusion of low season for the period.”
The rand gained 11% against the US dollar, and the pula appreciated by 5%, despite which Azoulay says, “Operating costs remained well contained with an increase of 5% after adjusting for Governors’.”
Wilderness’ Namibia, Rwanda and Zambezi regions all recorded strong growth as, combined, they contributed 30% of segmental profit (compared to 15% in 2016) and reflect a combined growth of 104% from P27 million (€2.2 million) to P55 million (€4.4 million).