Chobe Holdings, a Gaborone-based tourism company led by Botswana-based businessman Jonathan Gibson, reported a loss of BWP42.45 million ($3.36 million) at the end of its 2021 fiscal year, as core hospitality operations failed to recover to pre-pandemic levels last year.
The performance, which comes on the heels of disruptions in the hospitality industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, marks the Botswana-based firm’s second consecutive year of losses, bringing its total losses from operations since January 2020 to BWP110.3 million ($110.3 million).
According to the group’s 2021 financial report, its losses at the end of 2021 decreased marginally from BWP67.9 billion ($5.3 million) in 2020 to BWP42.45 million ($3.36 million), owing to a triple-digit percent increase in revenue.
The increase in revenue from BWP27.8 million ($2.2 million) to BWP118.8 million ($9.41 million) can be attributed to the year-long relaxation of local travel restrictions, which enabled the group to capitalize on tourist spending, particularly on its leased property in northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia.
Gibson, Chobe’s deputy chairman and CEO, disclosed in a note to investors that, despite an increase in tourists and improvements in the group’s domestic and regional operations, the response from this sector, while positive in terms of the opportunity to travel to destinations previously considered out of reach, was insufficient to render its operations profitable.
Gibson went on to stated that the group’s earnings power was influenced heavily by the relative size of the market, as well as high-cost profiles of properties in terms of lease fees.
“Disregarding impairments and amortizations the loss before tax was reduced from about BWP44 million ($3.5 million) to about BWP11 million ($871,000) thanks also to the continued attention of directors in their implementation of cost control measures,” Gibson said.
Chobe Holdings, a leader in Botswana’s hospitality industry, operates 12 ecotourism lodges and camps on leased land in northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia through its leading brands and subsidiaries.
The Botswana-based group is led by Gibson, who owns 35.6 percent of the company.
The group also owns Safari Air, a wholly-owned air charter operator that provides air transport services to the group’s camps and lodges, as well as North West Air Proprietary Limited.