An increase in bednights sold saw tourism operator, Wilderness Holdings, register an increase of 39 percent in after tax profits.
Wilderness Holdings, a Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) and Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed company has registered profit of P87.3 million, a massive increase from P62.7 million recorded last year.
Led by CEO Keith Vincent, Wilderness which are the operators of Mombo Camp and various other camps in the Okavango Delta, says despite stronger local currencies and a discounted Mobile Mombo Camp, the group has proven its adaptability and delivered a solid set of results with nine percent growth in revenue and one (1) percent decline in EBITDA.
During the year, the Pula gained more than 5 percent against the US Dollar over the year which impacted negatively on revenue and this is also said to have been the cause of the large foreign exchange losses on conversion of the group’s foreign currency position.
With operations across six African countries, the South African operations remain the leading contributor to the group in terms of revenue having contributed P758 million in revenue followed by Botswana with P481 million.
The group has other operations in Rwanda, Kenya, Namibia and the Zambezi region. Wilderness reported impairment losses amounting to P9.6 million arising from the impairment of decommissioned camp assets and camp assets damaged by flooding.
The Group’s effective tax rate has decreased from 38 percent to 24 percent said to be largely due to the recognition of P5m of deferred tax asset in the Governors’ businesses following their strong turnaround in performance and the decline in net foreign exchange losses.
Excluding this, Vincent says the tax rate is still higher than the nominal tax rate due to the higher tax rates applicable in other tax jurisdictions, losses incurred where deferred tax assets could not be recognised, as well as unrealised foreign exchange losses which are generally not claimable for tax purposes.
Not taking into account acquisitions, the group capital expenditure amounted to P71 million with about P25 million being spent on new camp developments, P133 million on rebuilding existing camps and P27 million on two additional aircrafts.
Capital expenditure is expected to taper off following the completion of Mombo and Bisate but Vincent says in line with the Group’s philosophy to ensure its properties and assets remain in pristine condition, the Group will continue to spend material amounts on maintenance capital estimated at P100 million annually.
For the next coming financial year, Wilderness board has approved a total of P110 million in capital expenditure, comprising P81 million and P29 million for new or strategic projects. The rebuilding of Mombo Camp, together with together with a politically stable Kenya and Zimbabwe, bode well for the year ahead, according to Vincent.
Rwanda is also expected to increase its contribution both in occupancy and revenue. However, the exchange rate volatility is considered a risk and it is believed that if the recent strength of the local currency continues, it will weigh down on performance.
The group says its strategic intent is to invest in African tourism markets which offer authentic wildlife and safari experiences and where it feels its specific ecotourism model can have positive conservation and community impacts.