Wilderness Safaris has delivered what it considers strong financial results in a period of uncertainty characterised by the Ebola scare during the past year.
Feared to have a significant negative impact on the tourism industry as a whole, the outbreak of the virus was not evident in the first three quarters of 2014 financial year for Wilderness Safari as there were only a few cancellations of existing bookings.
The group, however, notes that the effect came late in Wilderness booking cycle, showing the impact in a lower than expected fourth quarter and a slow start to the current financial year.
In a year in which revenue grew by 12 percent to arrive at P945 million, Wilderness experienced increase in bed nights sold reaching 11 percent which was driven mainly by Namibia and a greater contribution from lower end products.
Wilderness, which operates camps and lodges in seven Southern African countries, says geographical segments reported an improved operational performance, with Namibia contributing 11 percent of segmental profit compared to just two percent the previous year.
The group in the year under review saw its demand for the Namibian offering increase as loss making camps were closed along with improved service levels and a depreciation of the Namibian Dollar against the US Dollar with bed night sales increasing by over 25 percent during the period.
In line with efforts to consolidate and focus on core business, Wilderness has disposed off its investments in the Malawian business for P1.2 million. Similarly the group also took a decision to dispose 75 percent of its investment in a Namibian tour operator and 50 percent in a road transfer business in Botswana for P1 million and P1.5 million respectively.
Looking forward, Wilderness says the impact of the Ebola virus together with new visa requirements that the South African authorities have announced are expected to have a negative impact on the coming financial year, but however remain hopeful that the impact on high season will be subdued.