Friday, April 12, 2024

Wilderness still reeling from the Ebola effects

Wilderness Holdings says its business environment has been tremendously affected by the outbreak of Ebola in Africa. Wilderness Holdings Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Keith Vincent said that there had been strong demand from North America and growing interest from the European market until the Ebola outbreak, adding that this only resulted in a low season.
Wilderness CEO Vincent further said that the high levels of demand from North America in the first three quarters tapered off as the Ebola outbreak spread and received greater news coverage.
“Demand from Europe was improving, again until Ebola took effect. There is considerable investment in maintenance and refurbishment of existing camps and products,” said Vincent.
He revealed that last year Ebola cost the company close to US$20 million, adding that it is a significant amount of money considering that the disease affected the first quarter of 2015 which was a prime booking season for the year ahead. He said the devaluation of the Euro has also created a very appetising market for the Dollar based clientele.
“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 on the coming financial year,” he said.
Vincent further stated that they remain hopeful that the impact on high season will be subdued adding that the company’s announcement of two new camps in Rwanda which has a unique tourism offering will provide the experience that will complement the existing business.
He pointed out that the group’s strategic intent is to invest in African tourism markets which offer authentic wildlife and safari experiences. “As set out in our cautionary announcement we continue to be engaged in negotiations in this regard,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Wilderness Company stated that all geographical segments reported an improved operational performance, with Namibia now contributing 11 percent of segmental profit compared to 2 percent in the prior year.
Wilderness Holdings financial results for the year ended 28 February 2015 show that on a restated basis revenue grew by 12 percent to P945 million. Bed-nights sold increased by 11 percent driven mainly by Namibia and a greater contribution from the lower end products. Also available bed-nights have increased by 6 percent from 210 880 to 224 228.
The average exchange rate for the year was 6 percent weaker against the US Dollar from P8.56 to P9.08, whilst the Rand depreciated against the Botswana Pula by 3 percent from R1.17 to R1.21. A look at the gross margin is a decrease by 1 percent to 68 percent as a result of greater contribution by the lower margin Namibian business.


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