Sunday, May 16, 2021

Wilderness bullish on re-awarding of Okavango Delta concessions

Wilderness Holdings, the leading eco-tourism group trading as Wilderness Safaris in Botswana and the region, says it is bullish its leases in the country’s pristine tourism areas will be reissued.

The listed tourism outfit group, which traces its origins in Botswana, said in its audited provisional consolidated financial results for the year ended 28th February 2015 that the leases for the concessions upon which the Mombo, Little Mombo, Vumbura and Xigera camps are located expired in mid 2014.

However, these have not yet been renewed as the structures and the process by which these concessions are allocated and administered by Botswana authorities are being changed in order to improve stability and long-term confidence in the industry.

“A number of our competitors are similarly affected,” said a statement accompanying the results signed by Chairman, Parks Tafa. “On the basis of correspondence with senior Government representatives, the Group is confident that the concessions concerned will be reissued to existing operators in good standing.”

All these camps are in the pristine Okavango Delta and are located in an area that makes Botswana tourism tick. The Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed tourism group reported strong results for the year after recording a 102 percent increase in headline earnings per share.
Revenues were 12 percent better from P843 million on the corresponding period to P945 million, with the company saying the current results were achieved in a period characterised by uncertainty in the African tourism industry driven by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in March 2014.

“The effect of Ebola was not evident in the first three quarters, as there were few cancellations of existing bookings as was first feared at the onset of the outbreak,” Wilderness said.

“However, the effect came later in our booking cycle showing the impact in a lower than expected fourth quarter and a slow start to the new financial year,” it added.

Profit for the year stood at P76 million, which is a 57 percent change from P48 million on the February 28, 2014 results. Going forward, the group said the impact of the Ebola virus together with the new visa requirements that the South African authorities have announced are expected to have a negative effect during the coming financial year.

“However, we remain hopeful that the impact on high season will be subdued. We have announced our investment in two new camps in Rwanda, a country with a unique tourism offering which we believe will provide the experience that will complement our existing business.”

The company also announced that a final dividend for the year ended 28 February 2015 of 15 thebe per share was declared on 20 May 2015 (13.88 thebe per share net of Botswana withholding tax).

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