Zimbabwe: Covid-19 Weighs Down African Sun

19 April 2021

Hospitality group, African Sun Limited, recorded a depressed performance for the year to December 2020 due to low demand for travel, tourism and hospitality services as a result of Covid-19.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), global tourism experienced its worst year on record in 2020, with international arrivals dropping by 74 percent.

Destinations worldwide had one billion fewer international arrivals in 2020 than in the previous year due to the unprecedented fall in demand and widespread travel restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The effects of the pandemic were felt across the globe with African Sun recording a significant decline in its figures as the country implemented various levels of lockdown from March 30, 2020.

"The Group recorded its worst occupancies and volumes in April and May," said chairman Alex Makamure in a statement accompanying group financials for the year under review.

During the period under review, the group recorded low occupancy of 23 percent, representing a decline of 25 percentage points compared to 48 percent recorded in 2019. Resultantly, there was a significant drop in the group's revenue by 55 percent to $1,84 billion compared to $4,10 billion in the same period last year.

Room nights sold went down by 52 percent to 137,162 from 288,224 reported last year.

The decline in room nights was across all market segments, with those attributable to export and domestic reducing by 82 percent and 35 percent respectively.

Mr Makamure indicated the decrease in revenue and volumes resulted in the Group posting an EBITDA of $5,42 million compared to $1,74 billion that was achieved in 2019.

"The inflation adjusted loss before tax of $1,86 billion is largely a result of the monetary loss of $1,50 billion, which is a result of applying International Accounting Standard (IAS) 29 Financial Reporting in Hyper-inflationary Economies," he said.

The group initiated some cost containment measures during the year although the year was characterised by a reduction of economic and social activity due to the Covid-19 induced lockdowns as well as the temporary suspension of operations at all 11 hotels and two casinos at some point during the year.

The group, however, had all its hotels open for business during fourth quarter of 2020.

Total assets reduced to $3,5 billion from $4,6 billion recorded in the prior year.

African Sun anticipates domestic demand to start improving following the easing of the lockdown restrictions which permit all businesses to operate and allowing inter-provincial travel.

The roll-out of Covid-19 vaccination is also expected to further improve the business environment through easing of restrictions and unlocking leisure and business travel.

"There are prospects of a rebound in the later part of 2021 on the back of the current roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccines and attaining of the required herd immunity.

"While we do not expect that there will be a quick recovery to previous trading levels, we are optimistic that the various cost saving initiatives and the renewed focus on improving the customer experience, the group will recover from the Covid-19 pandemic," said Mr Makamure.

The group did not declare a dividend.

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