The Cullinan Group, one of South Africa’s biggest tourism companies comprising 25 businesses, expects results for this year to be well up from 2018, which was a record year for the Group, says CEO, Michael Tollman.

In an exclusive interview, he told TU: “Our inbound tourism and financial services divisions have performed exceptionally well in 2019 and this added to the Group’s overall performance; whereas our domestic businesses have traded in a tough economic environment locally.

“We are cautiously optimistic the Group will probably exceed this year’s performance in 2020. A lot of this has to do with internal measures taken in our business around technology and we should start to see these benefits next year.

From a hedging perspective, the weaker rand has been good for the inbound division. If the rand weakens further, this should further impact positively on our inbound business.

“We are positive about Southern Africa as a destination and we are looking for further inbound business opportunities. We have a lot of synergy and buying power in the inbound division,” Tollman said.

Following the expansion of its inbound tour services division with the acquisition of inbound tour operator Followme2Africa in 2018 and the opening of Cullinan Namibia, he said the Group was now looking for further acquisitions in Kenya and Tanzania, reflecting its confidence in Africa as a destination.

“We are also looking at other infrastructure and product acquisitions in South Africa that would add unique experiences, such as camping, sightseeing and other destinations outside of the usual norm,” he added.

Meanwhile, he said, Cullinan would continue to invest in its coach charter fleet based on optimism around the future growth of tourism to Southern Africa. “Our fleet today is the youngest and largest in Africa and we will continue to invest in it in 2020 and the years ahead. We plan to grow the transport division in 2020, including varied sizes of vehicles and coaches,” he said.