Intrepid Travel has revealed the pandemic’s financial hit on its bottom line, but said new investors mean expansion plans are on track.
Intrepid, whose brands include Peak DMC, Peregrine Adventures and Urban Adventures, recorded a pre-tax loss of AU$26.1 million (£14.45 million) in the calendar year 2020, compared with a profit of $21.5 million (£11.9 million) in 2019.
In its annual report, chief executive James Thornton said Intrepid had switched “almost overnight” from carrying 460,000 passengers to suspending operations.
“By the end of 2020, we had processed over 43,000 trip credits and returned $21 million in refunds.”
The pandemic saw Intrepid reduce staff and claim government subsidies in several countries totalling AU$6 million in 2020. Another AU$1.5 million is due this year, while customers were retained with booking credits worth more than AU$120 million.
“Thanks to these proactive steps, at the end of 2020, Intrepid’s cash balance was $48 million compared to $87 million at the end of 2019,” Thornton said, adding forward bookings for 2021 amounted to more than AU$40 million.
Last month, a strategic partnership with French investment company Genairgy was sealed. Genairgy took a minority stake in Intrepid “at a close to pre-Covid valuation” following 2019’s record AU$491 million sales.
Intrepid said the investment meant it was on course to become the world’s first AUS$1 billion adventure travel company by 2025.
“With Genairgy, Intrepid has future certainty and the opportunity to capitalise on our position in the market.”
However, the report warned: “Despite this cash injection and the global rollout of vaccines raising the prospect of a return of travel in the second half of 2021, short-term risks remain.
“When or how quickly international travel will recover remains unclear, and with governments starting to roll back benefits and wage subsidy schemes, maintaining cash and balance sheet strength will remain critical until travel rebounds.”