The magnificent Sunbird Waterfront Hotel in Salima
* The turnaround to the increased business volumes in 2021 as compared to 2020 when CoVID-19 effects were at at its peak
* Lakeshore resorts performed well unlike the city hotels because they were driven by conferences
By Steven Mkweteza, Correspondent
Despite the prevailing devastating impact of CoVID-19 in the hospitality and travel industry, Sunbird Tourism Plc has announced that it has posted a profit after tax of K749 million in the 2021 financial year as compared to loss of K1.2 billion reported in 2020.
At its 34th annual general meeting (AGM) held in Blantyre, Board director for the hospitality and travel company, Vilipo Munthali attributed the turnaround to the increased business volumes in 2021 as compared to 2020 when CoVID-19 effects were at at its peak.
Munthali said the aggressive global vaccination campaign which led to relaxation of travel restrictions — as well as an uptake in travel confidence from international arrivals — and a resilience on domestic market driven by relaxation in CoVID-19 measures at local level, was key in an improved trading environment for the industry, hence, the performance.
“Generally, our lakeshore resorts performed well unlike the city hotels because they were driven by conferences,” he said. “Therefore, when government banned large gatherings and international travels due to CoVID-19, it affected our performance in this sector.”
Munthali forecast a further growth if business in the years to come as the result of strategic instruments that have been put in place to increase profits.
“We will make sure that we continue our efforts to improve service delivery, enhance guest experience, undertake product improvements, and also intensify sales and marketing activities.”
Munthali added that the company intends to refurbish all rooms, construct a magnificent lakeside view restaurant and an eco-lodge in Majete Game Reserve in order to retain and grow its client base —both in domestic as well as the international market sectors.
However, the director played down reports of poor business performance in the lakeshore areas due to the recent ban of government activities, saying the company’s facilities in the lakeshore areas were well established to attract more customers.
Commenting on the minority shareholders demand for the government to reduce its stake in the tourism group, Munthali said the fears were unfounded because government does not run day to day affairs of the company.
“We run our affairs professionally as a listed company and government does not control our operations as a majority shareholder,” he said.
In a separate interview, Joe Maere — a minority shareholder of the company — expressed satification with the performance of the group.
“It is a very good result considering that the company has not been registering growth for the past three years,” he said. “This means we are on a good recovery path even though dividends will not be declared to us again this year.”
Sunbird Tourism Plc is a leading operator in the hospitality industry in the country and is a publicly quoted enterprise, listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange in August 2002.
As of December 2021, government of Malawi through the dormant Malawi Development Corporation (MDC), is the major shareholder at 71% with Press Corporation Plc owning 15% and 14% being owned by members of the public.