The Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) Chairman Ambassador Leonard Iipumbu recently said that during the financial year 2019/20, the state-owned entity faced their greatest challenges as an organisation.
Iipumbu highlighted this to the shareholders during the resort's Annual General Meeting held on 29 April, where the government was represented by the Minister of Public Enterprise, Leon Jooste and the newly introduced Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Heather Sibungo.
"The significant milestone of our first-ever profit of N$ 22 million since the establishment of the organization and other financial gains made in 2018/2019 were wiped out due to COVID-19," he said.
However, to sustain its operations which resulted in it not retrenching or reducing its employees' salaries except for its Board's allowances and Senior Management salaries, NWR needed to be innovative to survive.
"Therefore, we were the first organization to offer our establishments to the government as isolation facilities. We must say this was an arrangement few tourism companies were looking at during that period. Additionally, we paid special attention to our domestic market, which resulted in us offering a discounted rate of N$600 per room from May up until September 2020. That was a significant discount on our normal rack rates. Through this effort, we were able to keep the business going and provide a much-needed service to the nation. We also launched a new tour package that we envision will be one of the cornerstones of our future," said Iipumbu.
From a cost-cutting perspective, NWR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NAPWU. The MOU resolved, amongst others, to suspend salary increments for the financial period 2019/20, suspend normal overtime, Sunday and public holiday payments, and other allowances and benefits with effect from 27 March 2020
Additionally, it also resolved to place a moratorium on external recruitments to ensure that the company's wage bill remained manageable. NWR also introduced a voluntary separation initiative, which 130 staff members took up. These efforts were aimed at helping it reduce its employee costs.
NWR Managing Director, Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, noted that "during the period under review, the Namibia Wildlife Resorts Hospitality Institute (NWR Hi) was successfully established. In collaboration with the National Training Authority (NTA), NWR's training arm, NWR Hi, was operationalized in 2020 and apprenticeship scholarships were awarded to 80 apprentices sourced from all of Namibia's 14 regions for the period 2020 - 2023."