Ebola robs Chobe Holdings

SHARE   |   Monday, 30 May 2016   |   By Kabelo Adamson
Jonathan Gibson Jonathan Gibson

The Botswana Stock Exchange listed tourism outfit Chobe Holdings Limited suffered a decrease in occupancy due to the after effects of the Ebola outbreak in 2014. In 2014, tourism operators in Botswana, Chobe included, expressed fears that the outbreak of the disease which threatened to wipe out the whole humanity in West Africa would have its effects felt in the local industry as tourists held reservations on the continent as a whole. Almost two years down the line, Ebola hangover is said to be still felt across the business community. Chobe Holdings – operators and owners of a series of eco-tourism lodges and camps in the northern part of Botswana – reported in audited results for the year ended 29 February 2016 that it suffered a two percent decrease in occupancy due to the negative effect of the Ebola outbreak in parts of Africa in 2014 and challenging market conditions especially in Europe. Chobe, which is under the leadership of CEO Jonathan Gibson, has however seen its profit after tax increase by 9 percent to P56.3 million which is believed to be due to favourable exchange rates and marginal increase in achieved bed rates in US Dollar terms.

The company considers operating cost increase of three percent satisfactory in light of the volume of business and current inflation levels. Gibson, who serves as both the CEO and Deputy Chairman of Chobe, said in a statement that the group has spent P41.5 million, financed from internally generated cash flows, on improving existing equipment, buildings, as well as the purchase of additional equipment. “Major projects undertaken were the complete rebuild of Camp Okavango which was officially reopened on 16th April 2016 and refurbishing of rooms at Chobe Game Lodge,” said Gibson. The company has further said that post the reporting date, through its wholly owned subsidiary North West Air; it acquired Air Charter Botswana’s aircraft maintenance operation at Maun international airport. Looking into the future, Gibson said the SADC region and Botswana in particular is perceived to be a safe tourist destination coupled with direct flight from Cape Town to Maun which he believes along with group’s marketing strategy and improving product offerings, will translate to satisfactory results in the coming year.