Jan Beekwilder
Netherlands NL
Mar 4, 2020 March 4, 2020

Jan is co-owner of SafariBookings.com

March 4, 2020 – SafariBookings.com conducted a survey among 361 safari tour operators and after a careful analysis of the findings have concluded that more than 86% of operators are experiencing a significant decline in bookings due to fears of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Common amongst the comments from safari operators was “coronavirus is affecting our safari business. We are experiencing less bookings as some clients are putting their bookings on hold while others have canceled.”

The initiative for the survey was taken after SafariBookings.com received disturbing feedback from safari operators who were reporting that bookings had declined significantly due to the coronavirus outbreak. The survey found that about a quarter of operators experienced a staggering 75% decrease in bookings. Only 14% reported no decrease and for these operators it has been business as usual. It is a heavy blow for the industry and the numerous wildlife reserves that rely on its revenue.

Clients are asking questions about options to delay or cancel their safari trips, and any costs they may incur. As one operator said, “the main question potential clients are asking is whether they will be able to postpone or cancel their trip without penalties, should the coronavirus spread to Africa or to their own country, forcing them to amend their travel plans.”

There is a clear sense of frustration amongst safari operators because as one operator put it, “the fear for this disease is causing a direct negative impact on our business, yet we have not a single case in Uganda.”

If the coronavirus crisis endures or worsens, we will run a second survey at the beginning of April to investigate how the impact on the safari industry has evolved. If you would like to be updated about this second survey, please let us know by emailing survey-update@safaribookings.com.

Detailed survey results

What do tour operators have to say about the impact?

Suzanne Brown, Vayeni, Zimbabwe

"Currently Southern Africa is probably the best destination to travel in when it comes to the corona virus risk. However people are worried about the "travelling to" the destination, having to travel by air and spending time at airports."

Leon Steyn, The Mzansi Experience, South Africa

"People are hesitant to book due to fear / uncertainty, even though South Africa has no corona virus cases to date."

Leonard Chepkwony, Priority Wild Safaris and Tours, Kenya

"Many fear the disease and there also is not enough information about it."

Emma Marije Wijnia, Shemeji Safari Tanzania, Tanzania

"Peope are worried to book a safari. They prefer to wait and see how the outbreak evolves."

Ute Sonnenberg, Roho Ya Chui, South Africa

"The guests are not worried about visiting Africa, they are worried about the travel to/from Africa. Being on planes and big airports with lots of people and stopovers. They are worried about being put in quarantine when coming back home."

Walter Kohrs, Safari Online, South Africa

"The future seems very uncertain for most clients."

Perminus Muturi, Africa Marvel Tours, Kenya

"We haven't experienced any concerns as regards to coronavirus."

Janet Chamia, Netherken Safaris & Tours, Kenya

"Our Italian client has prosponed the safari because they are infected with the virus and are not allowed to travel."

Kassim Omar Kassim, The Expert Holidays, Tanzania

"It is business is as usual for us."

Alfa Mniko, Kilimanjaro On Foot, Tanzania

"Most of our clients are concerned about the virus and most of them prefer to wait with making a booking until they know what the coronavirus will do in the future."

Kenewang Chobacho, African Bush Lovers Travel & Tours Safaris, Botswana

"So far we have 4 trips which have been cancelled due to the virus. This is affecting us a lot."

Roberto de Sibi, Savannah Explorers Ltd, Tanzania

"The coranavirus is heavily affecting our business. If it continues for a long time, we are not sure how tour operators can pay salaries and suppliers."

Mark Hathaway, Gondwana Tours & Safaris, Botswana

"At the moment we are reassuring any clients who ask that there have been no cases of coronavirus in the main tourist destinations in Africa. Given that many clients are coming from countries where there have been reported cases then they would actually be safer in Africa!"

Jackie Najjuka, Katona Tours & Travel, Uganda

"About 40% of our bookings have been cancelled. There hardly any new bookings."

Paul Robert Shayo, Shayo Trekking and Safaris company ltd, Tanzania

"The coronavirus is affecting our tourism industry because a lot of clients are afraid to travel to any country."

Neil de Jonge, Jewel of Africa Safaris, South Africa

"The USA & Canada markets are down with almost no quotes through all our marketing channels. Interestingly the UK and Australian markets are up or did not show and effect as of yet. We have had two cancelations within the last week worth over R550k or $35k. The main reason for the cancelations is that the travel insurance companies will not cover a trip if there is a coronavirus outbreak in the country guests are traveling to. It is a mess!"

Onne Vegter, Wild Wings Safaris, South Africa

"The main question potential clients are asking is whether they will be able to postpone or cancel their trip without penalties, should the coronavirus spread to Africa or to their own country, forcing them to amend their travel plans."

Kavuma Samuel, Great Adventures Uganda, Uganda

"Coronavirus is affecting our safari business. We are experiencing less bookings as some clients are putting their bookings on hold while others have cancelled."

Oscar, Zambezi Expedition Travel and Tours, Zimbabwe

"We having lots of cancellations due to the outbreak of coronavirus. A Group of 16 Italians have put their booking on hold until next month. They said other participants in the group are scared to travel because of the disease."

Imelda Atieno, Zoujin Africa Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"In the past week, we have received over five cancellations because of the virus."

Muli Muema, Africa Celebrity Tours & Travels, Kenya

"Most clients are postponing their safaris to later date due to the coronavirus."

Simon Munengwa, Africa Beast Safaris, Zimbabwe

"Even though Africa is still safe, clients are not confident to travel."

Juma Kizito, Ganyana Safaris Uganda, Uganda

"So far in Uganda we are still safe, there is no confirmed case of the virus, however clients are concerned about it."

Turyahabwe Nicholas, Africa Tours Adventure, Uganda

"Most clients are skeptical of confirming bookings in fear of the virus escalation. We have had 2 cancellations so far, but inquiries are declining also."

Oima Paul, Four Crane Safaris, Uganda

"Coronavirus outbreak has affected safari business because many clients fear the risk of contacting the virus hence the cancellation/ extension of traveling. Some of the clients say we want to travel to your country, but we are worried of coronavirus. They ask ''How safe is your country''?"

Andrew Machete, Timeline Travel, South Africa

"Several clients have decided to put their travel plan on hold and monitor the outbreak progress."

Edward Taylor, Namibia Tours & Safari's, Namibia

"Another concern for us now is how accommodations will be handling cancellations due to the virus. Clients want to know if they will be penalized when they cancel and what their options are. If needed, could they move dates and travel later? Namibia has extra care and extra ears on the ground. Our medical services are up to date and ready to act. In Namibia we only have a 2.5 million people and we fix issues very quickly and easy."

Amanya Peter, Buyaga Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"The virus has affected us so much and inquiries have reduced dramatically including cancellation."

Paulo Jastini, Tanzania Roadside Expeditions, Tanzania

"If the corona virus will not controlled, the safari business will come to a complete shutdown."

Peter Kuria, Kibera Holiday Safaris, Kenya

"It is a challenge, especially with group joining safaris where some clients may ask if there is any client who will join them from the affected countries."

Yvonne Umuhoza, New Horizon Tours and Services, Rwanda

"Not that bad but some people are afraid to travel with fear that they might encounter infected people during the flight from and back home."

Lilian Wanjiru, Ndurumo Tours and Safaris, Kenya

"Some clients are scared of travelling."

Robert Nderitu, Beacon Safaris, Kenya

"Clients are really worried about traveling because of the fear of contracting the virus."

Agnes Daniel Lomnyaki, Rhino Explorer Tours & Safaris, Tanzania

"We are experiencing a 10% cancellation of bookings."

Antony Gitau, Tazama Africa Holidays, Kenya

"The last one or two weeks I have experienced a decline in receiving quotes. I would like to ask the rest of the world that Kenya is safe as a safari destination and we haven’t gotten any cases of the virus. You are highly welcome to visit our country."

Emanuel Kavishe, African Big Cats Safaris, Tanzania

"Because of Corona virus about 75% of our clients have canceled their safaris."

Mr Dona Tindyebwa, Jewel Safaris, Uganda

"This is a big blow to the tourism sector as whole. Jewel Safaris is experiencing a great blow due to coronavirus epidemic."

Ally Makenya, Samemo Investments Company Ltd, Tanzania

"No its too early to say because I haven't got any cancellations and I keep receiving inquiries from clients clients who are interested in traveling Tanzania. Maybe it will become an issue in the coming days."

Webster Musaidzi, DK Tours and Safaris, Zimbabwe

"All our bookings from the Chinese market for February and March were cancelled. And all the inquiries from the Asian countries have all gone quiet."

Felix Malingu, Marhaba Holidays, Kenya

"With the Covid-19 spreading into new countries by day, it is undeniable that this will affect the safari business."

Kenneth Tumusiime, Maraka Tours & Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"We're having many Cancellation of comfirmed trips."

Derek Jacobs, Blue Crane Safaris Namibia, Namibia

"We are getting cancellations and also less enquiries. So we are getting worried."

Namakula Victoria, Avens Travel World, Uganda

"We haven't received any questions or concerns from clients about the outbreak. However, we think that if the risk spreads to Africa or further restricts movements of people, our safari businesses will suffer the consequences."

Jenieen van Den Heever, Ker & Downey Africa, South Africa

"I think its important for clients to understand that Africa is not affected at this stage so they can carry on with planning their holidays. We are fortunate that we are not affected unlike with the Ebola outbreak. Planning to travel from June/July onwards would be fine in my opinion as by then governement and authorities will have this situation under control. We understand clients have a fear to travel right now but it should not deter you from planning your trip for later this year or 2021."

Samuel Kateyenge, Katsam Adventures, Uganda

"The coronavirus is affecting the travel industry all over the world. People are afraid to travel and they tell us that they will carry on their travel plans after the corona virus is dealt with."

Sander van zanten, Grassrootz Adventures, Netherlands

"No business at all at the moment."

Anne Bright, Mega Wild Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"Some of our clients have decided to suspend their trips to Africa due to the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus. Their concern mainly regards their safety during air travel from their countries to Africa."

Oliver Madibela, Mosu Safari Tours, Botswana

"Most of the clients are very sensitive about this issue, so it is not easy for them to confirm their bookings. They are particularly afraid to travel."

Denis Micheni, Africa Vacation Safaris, Kenya

"Very few bookings and confirmations since the outbreak went global."

Wild Africa Safaris, Wild Africa Safaris, Botswana

"It has affected our business badly."

Maurice, Africa Safari Classics, Kenya

"Its now very difficult to confirm safari trips. Most lodges have put special offers until 30th June 2020."

Jane Bettenay, Ulinda Safari Trails, Botswana

"People are shy to send money as they are concerned they will not be able to travel."

Bernhard W Bekker, Private Kruger Safaris, South Africa

"Flights are in everybodies minds and they do not want to fly, so guests are postponing there trips."

Inge olde Rikkert, Shadows of Africa, Tanzania

"We work with markets based all over the world, we see the biggest drop from our Asian markets. Europe, the US and South America seem happy to continue travelling."

Ann Muthui, Blue Mountain Trekking Safaris, Kenya

"Compared to the other years I would say the effect is over 75%. We usually have a lot of clients and bookings in the month of January, February and March and this year it’s totally different. The impact is real and we feel it from all corners in the industry."

Tshepiso Garenamotse, Gifts of The Kalahari Safaris, Botswana

"The coronavirus affected my business. I have lost 10 bookings."

On Track Safaris, On Track Safaris, United Kingdom

"At this stage (early March 2020) it is not affecting our safari business."

Jacob Kereiya, Mazingira, Tanzania

"Most of clients are worried because they travel by plane with people from all over the world."

Evans Kadzomba, Opulent Tours And Travel, South Africa

"We haven’t got any issue as there are no threatening cases in Africa."

Omar Msangi, Connect African Safaris, Tanzania

"One client from Italy has raised doubts of booking this year due to the corona virus. Making it difficult for them to plan for flights etc. It is a concern."

Jefferson Kaka, Tripcare Adventures Tours and Travels, Uganda

"The Virus has greatly affected the tourism industry around the world, with many travellers and tourist cancelling their trips. We have felt the impact of coronavirus in the tourism industry here in Africa. The number of travellers and tourists travelling to Africa has decreased ."

wambui, Afriqueen Adventure Ltd, Kenya

"For now, we have not experienced any effects. But we are worried about the virus."

Samora Ndikwiki, Mytrip Connector Ltd, Tanzania

"Even though Africa is still a safe place to visit, I think the big concern for clients is getting into an airplane that carries people from multiple nations. That's where the fear is coming from."

Peter Philip, Natural Track Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"The general travel has slumped, and we attribute this to fear that has already been created by the disease. Presumably, people prefer to stay safe back home, slowing the travel industry."

Richard, Mali Kale Africa Safaris, Tanzania

"We did not experience any cancellation to our side due to the coronavirus. We believe things will be fine till the end."

Albina Sakeus, People Tours And Safari Cc, Namibia

"More people are concerned about coronavirus even though is not yet reported in Namibia. Our average bookings have decreased, which is affecting our revenue and reviews."

Imraan Nanji, Best Camping Tours & Safaris, Kenya

"Not just yet. But there's no hiding from it. Lodges are already getting massive cancellations"

Dennis Oluoch, West Travel and Tours Limited, Kenya

"Most clients are saying that they have put their travel arrangements on hold."

Glory Safaris Ltd, Glory Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"Mostly clients asking such questions are from Italy, UK and France. For now we don't have a single booking from China and the ones that we had have already been cancelled."

JP Ribeiro, Dunas Safari, Namibia

"We are very concerned that new requests continue to slow down, the effect on travel is growing by the day. Our clients are starting to refuse or to discuss our payment and cancellation conditions."

Miguel Bruno, Bushfind, Mozambique

"In my opinion this is happening not because the destinations but because the travel to arrive there (airports on the stop overs and airplanes)."

Monametsi Monametsi, Moonstroll Vantage Expeditions, Botswana

"The coronavirus issue has not been raised by potential clients at all. Even when requesting quotes for various safaris we have on offer."

Faith Chebet, Kenya Tru Nomads Tours, Kenya

"Receiving a lot of cancellations especially for April bookings. Inquiries are not coming in as has been the norm, especially for peak season (July - Oct)."

Florent Ipananga, Snow Africa Adventures, Tanzania

"We thought that we are going to miss clients from China only. Unfortunately the problem has spread all over the world. We had a group of 12 clients from Italy cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak."

Anne Allison, Back of Africa Adventure ltd, Kenya

"Guests are skeptical to confirm their trips. Yet, no recorded and confirmed cases in Kenya."

Joshua Monah, Joash Africa Wilderness Insight, Tanzania

"Isn't a threat at the time being. We are not sure about a few months to come."

Charles Mwabili, Aloboo Safaris Kenya, Kenya

"Client say they cannot risk contacting coronavirus to go on a holiday. They would rather cancell or postpone booking than travel at this time. Corona virus will bring world travel to a complete stop if the cure is not found soon."

Doris Nicholaus, Brown Parrot Safaris, Tanzania

"Some of our clients have cancelled their bookings due to the fear of coronavirus. Others are holding back their confirmation in order to observe the situation."

Isa Satheba, Extremely Wild Safaris, Botswana

"Tourists are concerned about their health and safety while traveling anywhere and they postpone their trip until the crisis is under control."

Twakiire Edimand, Gorillas Homeland Safaris, Uganda

"Our clients are now asking about cancellation policies that pertain the bookings."

Anja Hulshof, Ajabu Adventures, Tanzania

"No actual cancellations yet but clients that are ready to book, now delay to see how the situation develops."

Fabiano, Malawian Style, Malawi

"Yes we are receiving more cancellations on confirmed trips due to fears of the coronavirus and we are receiving less quote requests than usual."

Dennis Mwangangi solomon, Papio Africa Holidays, Kenya

"Corona virus is dragging our business down."

Naiman Meyassy, Quest Horizon Safaris, Tanzania

"Most clients are not really worried about the coronavirus in Africa. They are worried about the people they will meet in the plane and at the airports."

Seth Vincent, Trip Advisor Africa Safaris, Kenya

"Most guests are postponing their safari due to the coronavirus."

Mansoor Mohamed, African Pangolin Safaris, Tanzania

"The coronavirus is affecting our safari business because we receive less quote requests than before. So obviously business is slowing down."

Samuel Makanga, Prime Safaris & Tours, Uganda

"The fear for this disease is causing a direct negative impact on our business, yet we have not a single case in Uganda."

Karin Jones, Anastasia's Africa, United States

"We are working with all our suppliers to try to address more lenient cancellation, postponement and rebooking policies to help us to proactively address the situation. Many of the bookings are for travel in the late second, third and fourth quarter, so we have received no cancellations."

Christine Moseti, Donwel Tours & Travel Ltd, Kenya

"Yes the coronavirus outbreak is affecting our safari business."

Jennifer Twikirize, Peak Cruise Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"I am not experiencing the issues of cancellations yet, but i am recieving less inquiries and bookings."

For questions about this survey please email survey-update@safaribookings.com.

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