Chobe Holdings Limited fears political uncertainty in the northern hemisphere where the majority of its clientele comes from could result in significant decline in tourist arrivals in Botswana. The company made the announcement in its unaudited financial results for the six month period ended 31 August 2017. However, Group CEO and Deputy Chairman Jonathan Gibson said the Southern Africa tourism industry remains bullish and this trend is anticipated to continue in the medium-term. “The directors continue to ensure that the group is well positioned to benefit from these positive market conditions,” he said in the statement announcing the group financial results. He said the group’s strong cash position provides it with the opportunity to take advantage of expansion opportunities that may arise. During the period under review Chobe, which is listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), announced a 17 percent increase in profit after tax. The group says it experienced a 7 percent increase in occupancy levels while revenue went up by 11 percent which was due to an increase in bed nights sold.
Gibson said the 7 percent increase in occupancy levels is considered satisfactory in light of continued uncertainty in the world economy and reduced capacity caused by continued improvements at Chobe Game Lodge. According to Gibson, the negative effect on revenue as a result of the appreciation of the Pula against the US Dollar was countered by an increase in achieved bed rates in US Dollar terms. “An operating cost increase of 11 percent is considered satisfactory in light of the volume of business and current inflation levels,” said Gibson. During the period, Chobe spent P10.3 million, financed from internally generated cash flows, on improving existing equipment, buildings as well as the purchase of additional equipment. Chobe has also during the period taken up a 22% stake in Golden Wrap (Pty) Ltd, an aquaculture entity operating in Kasane. Once fully paid, Chobe total investment in this entity will be P6 million. Chobe has also recently announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Ker & Downey Botswana (Pty) Ltd acquired the entire shareholding and shareholders’ loans in Dinaka Safaris (Pty) Ltd, Flavoured Properties (Pty) Ltd, Horizon Deep (Pty) Ltd and Sunbelly Ventures (Pty) Ltd with effect from 1st September 2017 for a cash consideration of P56 million. In favour of a final year-end distribution, Chobe’s board of directors has not declared any dividend which it says is in line with the company’s dividend distribution policy.