The company which suffered a P67 million loss in its full year results says it continues to hold advance travel receipts, to the value of about P34 million at the financial year end.
The company’s CEO Jonathan Gibson says its marketing and reservations teams report particularly strong interest from traditional northern hemisphere suppliers such that there seems little doubt that if people can travel freely, business will recover strongly. “To do so however, intercontinental air carriers need to be able to re-establish reliable schedules to the sub-continent, COVID-19 protocols on both arrival and departure need to be clearly understood and flawlessly applied and the vaccine roll out accelerated, particularly so to the staff of tourism establishments thus protecting both our staff and our guests,” he says. “Almost all foreign travellers enter and exit Botswana through neighbouring states, it remains essential our COVID-19 protocols are harmonised with those neighbouring states to safely ease the flow of travellers.”
Gibson points out that the extension of the State of Emergency for a further six months again dealt a heavy blow to the industry as the con-notations of such a proclamation cause many countries to advise their nationals not to travel to countries under a state of emergency, and in many instances, travel insurances cannot be obtained by persons travelling to countries being governed under such proclamations.
During the last half of the financial year, Chobe says directors have done within reason all they could to contain costs across the board, never however losing sight of the fact that as the grip of COVID-19 releases through the roll out of vaccines, particularly so in traditional source markets, tourism will return to Botswana thus necessitating the ongoing maintenance of properties so that they can take immediate advantage of improving trade. To protect staff, Gibson says the established COVID policies with regards to salaries have been maintained, the lowest paid being protected by the lowest cuts whilst those further up the scale, including Directors, endure cuts up to a maximum of 75 percent. The extending of the government wage subsidy for a further three months to the end of December has again played a significant role in shoring up the group’s cash resources, the Group having received P9.6 million in this regard.
Gibson says the financial results for the year under review however reflect the continuing impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry world-wide. Some recovery of business in the form of domestic tourism was achieved when towards the calendar year end travel restrictions were somewhat eased, this so despite the heavy burden on both travellers and staff in the implementation of the many COVID protocols they are subject to. “The substantially lower than normal rates achieved, and the relative thinness of this market precluded the generation of a meaningful impact on our bottom line,” Gibson says. “This initiative did however give our own citizens an opportunity to enjoy Botswana’s wildlife and landscapes at a more affordable price, from a group perspective, it ensured that our properties were brought back to standard, and most importantly, it also allowed for the remobilisation of a number of staff at full salaries.”
Despite efforts to preserve cash resources and remain debt free, the ongoing crisis forced the company to draw into its prearranged overdraft facility of P25 million to the extent of P11.6 million. Events arising in the last half of the year culminated in the Managing Director, Rodney Gerrard tendering his resignation. CEO Jonathan Gibson has been appointed to assume the duties of Managing Director in his place until a suitable replacement is identified and appointed. To strengthen the executive, Lempheditse Odumetse has been promoted to the post of Operations Director