BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed leisure chain, Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) weathered the COVID-19-induced storm during the year ended December 31, 2020, posting an inflation-adjusted $352 million post-tax profit.
This was a 61,5% slowdown from the $914 million reported in 2019, but far ahead of most analyst predictions that warned of a bloodbath after the pandemic forced the shutdown of hotels to prevent contagion as the invasive virus grounded the global economy.
The African Development Bank said last week that tourism-dependent southern African economies took the sharpest knocks of lockdowns implemented by governments during the period, while Zimbabwe Tourism Authority data showed that the industry lost US$1 billion as arrivals plummeted 90%, the biggest fall in four decades.
RTG’s occupancy rates fell to 26% from 47% in 2019.
Revenues dropped to $1,1 billion during the period from $3,2 billion in 2019, but profit margins improved.
RTG chairperson Arthur Manase said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation increased to 42%, after ending at 32% in 2019.
Years before the virus tore through the region, RTG had made strategic moves to build a tech-drive operation then aimed at keeping up with new consumer tastes, but which bolstered interactions with the market as physical contact became dangerous.
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“Heightened cases of COVID-19 in South Africa meant the disruption of international arrivals into sub-Saharan Africa,” Manase said yesterday.
“This is due to the fact that South Africa remains the hub of tourism to the region.
“The effects of these disruptions led to closure of the Victoria Falls market as well as reduced numbers into city hotels.
“Although the restrictions were gradually lifted in South Africa as well as in Zimbabwe during the year, the fear and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic created great caution among travellers resulting in reduced business and leisure travel.
“With the closure of the two Victoria Falls hotels for the greater part of the year, the group’s performance was mainly sustained by its city hotels.
“The group continues to prepare for the inevitable rebound of the travel and tourism sector by continuing to recruit rooms and activities across Africa on the Gateway Stream platform,” he said.
The Gateway Stream is web and mobile application that connects customers to different hospitality services akin to the international webites and mobile applications, AirBnB and Booking.
RTG operates several top-end hotels and resorts in Zimbabwe, including the exclusive A’Zambezi River Lodge on Zambezi’s bank and Victoria Falls and Rainbow Towers, one of Sadc’s best hotels.