THE safari sector is projected to register business growth of between 10% and 15% on the back of steady performance in the first half of 2019, an official has said.
Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Emmanuel Fundira told businessdigest on Wednesday that the performance of the sector has improved marginally better than last year.
“Performance has been steady and marginally above 2018 and projected to close between 10-15% up,” Fundira said.
He said the sector has been immune to the currency volatility and liquidity crisis that has hit the country because it generates its earnings in foreign currency. In June this year, the government banned the use of the multi-currency regime and made the Zimbabwe dollar the sole legal tender through Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019.
“The safari industry is an export earner and continues to invoice and bill clients in US dollars and therefore the impact due to change towards the adoption of the local currency is negligible and of no effect,” Fundira said.
Power outages, which have had a debilitating effect on both business and households, have not had much of an impact on the sector.
“Safari facilities are mostly located in remote areas in the bush and have always been dependent on solar or engine energy powered supplies and therefore the impact of power outrages is only limited to a very small component of operations connected to the grid,” he said. “However, historically operators have always had in place generator set back-ups .The only negative side is the tying of money in stocks of fuel held at the camps.”
The safari sector was adversely affected by the ivory trade ban in 2014, resulting in a decline in the sector.
The government-run United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced the suspension of sport-hunted African elephant trophies taken in Tanzania and Zimbabwe in 2014.
“In Zimbabwe, available data, though limited, indicates a significant decline in the elephant population. Anecdotal evidence, such as the widely publicised poisoning last year of 300 elephants in Hwange National Park, suggests that Zimbabwe’s elephants are also under siege,” the organisation said when it imposed the ban.
The sector suffered a reduction in business, incurring losses as high as 30% in 2016. However, the lifting of the ban has helped revive the sector which enjoyed 30% growth last year. The sector registered 5% growth in revenue in the first quarter of last year on the back of the improved country perception and removal of the ivory ban. — Staff Writer.