Jeroen Beekwilder
Netherlands NL
Jul 12, 2021 July 12, 2021

Jeroen is co-owner of SafariBookings.com. His desire to feel connected powers his love of travel. He has traveled all over the world with his wife and two children.

Below are the results of a monthly survey, involving hundreds of safari tour operators, regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Africa’s safari industry. Our monthly survey was first conducted in March 2020, when the lock downs and travel restrictions began.

The monthly survey is run by SafariBookings.com and reveals a significant trend of decline in new bookings and large-scale cancellations of existing bookings. This is a major blow for Africa's US$12.4 billion safari industry [1], the wildlife reserves that rely on its revenue, and the local people employed in the safari industry.

SafariBookings.com will conduct a new survey at the beginning of every month until we see a significant recovery of safari tourism. New survey results will be included below before the 15th of every month.

Detailed survey results

What do tour operators have to say about the impact?

Johnson Mule, Lion Rider Tours And Safaris, Kenya

"Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have experienced a significant decline in bookings but we have started getting few requests. We hope things will be back on track soon."

Philemon Joel, Aardvark Expeditions, Tanzania

"The effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic is still high. The guests are still afraid to confirm holidays due to their governments restrictions. Let's keep our fingers crossed!"

Kerry MacFarlane, Ntanda Ventures, Zambia

"No cancellations actually as there are no real international bookings ."

Granville Diergaardt, Oshili Namibia Travel and Tours, Namibia

"We are still really suffering due to the outbreak. Our borders are open for travellers but due to Europeans not being able to travel, business has been really slow."

Moses, Njofu Expedition, Tanzania

"Coronavirus affected most businesses, but now starting to recover slowly."

Evarest Justin, Evarest Adventures Ltd, Tanzania

"Corona affecting our business 100%, but we still trust bookings will return once the corona disappears."

Colin Dilland, East Cape Tours, South Africa

"We are finally get travelers and bookings from the US."

Janet Kemunto Magoma, Javiva Adventures, Kenya

"We are not receiving any quote requests, hence the business is so much affected."

Chris Wambugu, SunUp Adventures, Kenya

"It is unfortunate that the impact of coronavirus on tourism industry and the hospitality industry at large will be felt for a longer time than anticipated. Could be years before things fully recover."

Hillary, Green Bee Eater Safaris, Tanzania

"Totally affected. I deal with overland truck tourists. Most of the destinations are still closed. Maybe next year tourism will pick up."

Charles Kiviu, Classic Journeys Africa, Kenya

"Things are improving, but very slowly."

Doris Nicholaus, Brown Parrot Safaris, Tanzania

"Tanzania is safe, we welcome you all."

Akello Sylvester's{Simon}, Wild Race Africa, Kenya

"The travel industry is yet to pick up. Its terrible at the moment"

ANNE WAITHIRA, Amazing Memories Safaris, Kenya

"Uncertainties and travel restrictions are highly affecting tourism business negatively."

Gabriel Elibariki, Foot Slopes Tours & Safaris, Tanzania

"We have received a lot of inquiries but clients do not want to confirm a booking. We expect to get more booking in the future and hope business will be back in the normal situation, though there are a lot of frustrations on the other side due sometimes no request."

Isaac Musyoki, Best Memory Safaris, Kenya

"Unfortunately, no business for us yet."

Joseph Aliganyira, Kubwa Five Safaris, Uganda

"Invested heavily as far as the online presence is concerned, so we haven't been affected. The bookings are coming in as usual."

Beasts Africa Safaris, Beasts Africa Safaris, Kenya

"We are starting to receive request. Seems that things will be getting back to normal slowly."

Vera, Luciano Tours and Travel, Zambia

"No business."

Jonah Kyanzaire, Karumuna Safaris, Uganda

"The covid19 is still affecting our business."

Umubano Tours, Umubano Tours, Rwanda

"Terrible times for the world, including people who rely on tourism."

Onne Vegter, Wild Wings Safaris, South Africa

"Ongoing travel advisories and quarantine requirements continue to make it very hard for international travel to recover."

Edmond, Claudious Tours & Safaris, Kenya

"In order to realize a steady recovery we have a daunting challenge ahead of forcasting our business given the unreliable time the pandemic has caused and uncertainty how long it will take for business to return to normal."

Ronald Muvunyi, Kajie Safaris, Uganda

"We have started to see inquiries coming in and one or two confirmed bookings in a month. Although it's still very low, it shows that there could be a surge in bookings in the near future. Most questions are about COVID-19 entry and travel requirements."

Frank Benoit Kanyamutara, Golden Rwanda Safaris, Rwanda

"It looks like many People are showing the will of travelling again. We have been receiving requests and some of them are promising to be booked. Let us keep on pushing and see."

Lonwabo Danster, Nqaba Township and Safari Tour, South Africa

"Our business has suffered a tremendous loss due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. So much that we've only received one booking since the outbreak."

James Oketch, Twinkle Star Tours and Safaris, Kenya

"Kenya is currently on UK red list variant. Our main market is the UK and it is very difficult to get clients from the UK. Vaccination gave us hope again, although the restrictions from other European countries are still problematic for tourism to return."

Vincent Swai, Hazzes Adventure Ltd, Tanzania

"Am still receiving less booking due to corona virus."

Chacha Kehengu, Africa Endless Cruising Co. Ltd, Tanzania

"The newly imposed restrictions in East Africa have a big impact on the travel in terms of trip cancellation or postoning."

Bakari Mohammed Khamis, Malengo Tours, Tanzania

"It is very bad since the corona pandemic started. Not much happening in our tourism industry."

Brendon Steele, Elephant Herd Tours & Safaris, South Africa

"Majority of clients want a free cancellation policy."

Jacinta Amina, Breezy Tours & Travel, Kenya

"With the vaccine rollout, we are hoping for better times ahead. People are now showing more interest to travel."

Andre, Safari With Us, South Africa

"Still waiting for tourism to recover."

Mr Kirya Peter, Yaneta Safaris, Uganda

"There is a slow down in bookings and the effect is truly evident in the limited number of inquiries we receive. The impact is not positive."

Bongizwe Madondo, Southern Tours and Safaris, South Africa

"There is no sign of progress so far. We are hoping to start receiving requests daily in the Q2 of 2022. Without African countries being vaccinated tourists will not have confidence t travel to Africa."

Glory Safaris Ltd, Glory Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"Covid19 has completely affected our business. Mass cancellations, while others postponed their trips to 2022. Many clients decided to wait ans see what happens next. Lockdowns and mandatory quarantine has also affected our business, as clients cannot travel without quarantine requirements. However, things are getting back to normal as many countries continue vaccinating their citizens."

DICKY CHIKOZA MWERO, KT & Safaris, Kenya

"No clients and no business."

Jimmy Mboya, Nyayo Tours and Safaris, Tanzania

"Our business is heavly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Richard Hilton, Greatest Africa, South Africa

"We have had a few enquiries, but our conversions are very low. Most people are only researching at this stage. We hope that bookings will recover by September, but realistically I believe it will only be by January 2022."

Evelyn Ngotea, Seven Wonders Safaris, Tanzania

"The situation is still not stable, quotes are coming but the response rate is very low."

Arthur, Travel Hype Adventures, Tanzania

"It has been a shaky experience for our business, but we feel that things are slowly getting better ."

Majenda Mhutila, Watu Safaris (T) Ltd, Tanzania

"Potential travellers are concerned about their safety when traveling."

Elvis E. Ayieko, Classic Journeys Africa, Kenya

"There seems to be some slight improvements"

Justine Mwimo, Shammah Wonders Safari Ltd, Tanzania

"Corona virus has affected my business big time. My last tour was in March 2020. More than a year ago. Currently, no quote requests and no business."

Vincent Mugaba, Kwezi Outdoors Ltd, Uganda

"Requests are beginning to come in. Certainly it is better than last year, even though it is like one trip in a month or two. It is better than nothing."

Mark Waigolo, Safaricare International Limited, Uganda

"Our business is completely down. Hope to get back when the vaccination program is a success."

Peninah Maingi, Mara 2 Serengeti Safaris, Kenya

"Decline in revenue and business. Looks like business will recover in two or more years."

Romeo Rwezaura, Safari Multiways, Tanzania

"I did not receive any cancellations because I did not receive any bookings."

Edward Kasaine, KSafaris & African Expeditions, Kenya

"Coronavirus has negatively affected the tourism business. Cancellations have increased, we are receiving less requests and people are still afraid to travel. The lockdowns imposed in some countries as well as strict travel regulations, such as quarantines, have made travel difficult. However, we hope the vaccines will bring back confidence among travelers and thus improve the travel business."

Ken, Lark adventure Ltd, Kenya

"Business is not as usuall, the turnout is very Low. Clients are scared of the virus."

Godson, Godson Adventures, Tanzania

"No business at all and I don’t know how or what should I do to get/receive quotes. All of this is because our financial situation is not good at all. So to be honest, the pandemic changed everything, No business at the moment."

Marsden Kelli, Bora Bora Travel, Kenya

"All our customers are mostly on mandatory lockdown, while others are skeptical about mandatory vaccine passports"

Lucy Cook, Visions of Africa, United Kingdom

"A question about clients postponing would be good a good addition to the survey. I am detailing cancellation, but actually 95% are postponing travel."

jonathan Kyalo, Genesis of Adventure, Kenya

"This coronavirus has affected our tourism industry."

Robert Zgozi, Absolute Zambia Safaris, Zambia

"People are very interested to travel. We see an increase in inquiries and bookings compared to 2020. The only change is the uncertainty that comes with restrictions as the virus and mutation (variants ) evolves people are concerned they find themselves in quarantine, which is not feasible if you going on a safari holiday ."

Loice Chege, Smile with us tours in Africa, Tanzania

"It is now 2 years that we hav ebeen affected by this coronavirus."

Danielle Smith, Shinzelle Safaris, South Africa

"We have seen a slight increase in enquires, but mostly for 2022. The rest of this year is still quiet."

Lucky Mokgatle, Kalahari Marsh Safari Holidays, Botswana

"Covid has affected the entire safari industry, including in my country Botswana. Introduction of state of emergency, lock downs and curfews has restricted movements. Even though in some countries movement is allowed, people are still scared of traveling freely. The other issue that makes traveling a challenge is that there are few direct flight to some contries like Botswana. Most of the flights travel through South Africa (Johannesburg) and if South Africa has different rules, it makes travel a challenge. Some days ago HATAB suggested that all its memebers take the vaccine as it will protect their staff and cleints, which might help with clients returning to Botswana."

Edwina Ngigi, Africa Travel Waves Safaris, Kenya

"The coronavirus has greatly affected our business making us think of other types of business in order to survive."

John Mitchell Adams, Destinations Africa, Australia

"We have been totally shut out of any new business."

Patricia Ko, Wildlight Safaris, Botswana

"Most of our 2020 clients have postponed to 2021, and now we have moved them again to 2022. Most do not feel comfortable to travel as there is a chance that they might spread the virus into the rural regions. Some of our clients have asked if they can make a donation to help and we have send them the details of a Namibia food project and also the Kilimanjaro porters fundraising efforts."

Jane Bettenay, Ulinda Safari Trails, Botswana

"It is still very bad with no safari's running at the moment at all."

Daniel Francis, Transtrek Safaris, United Kingdom

"2021 is looking even worse then 2020!"

Hosking Agoi, Affable Tours & Safaris, Kenya

"The third wave is making it harder fo the industry."

Julien Perreard, Giltedge Africa, South Africa

"US market 95% of our enquiries."

Janet Chamia, Netherken Safaris & Tours, Kenya

"Still no business. One safari up to now."

Christine Duxbury, Wildlife Safaris (Pty) Ltd, South Africa

"This month we have seen very little interest from the domestic market. We have a few international enquiries via our online travel agent. The rollout of vaccines in South Africa is critical to peace of mind for travellers. We are disappointed that it seems there will not be British spectators for the Lions Rugby Tour."

Carol, Tekko Tours and Travel, Kenya

"The business has been extremely affected."

Michael Mwangi, Tsavo Cats Tours and Safaris, Kenya

"We are urging the client not to cancel the booking but to postone their trip."

Noah Kuti, Wildebeest Safaris LTD, Kenya

"We, tour operators, are forced to amend our cancellation policies to match the needs ocf clients. We can only remain positive and hope things will change in the coming months after more people have been vaccinated."

Pendaeli Amos, Elyon Tours Tanzania, Tanzania

"Still business is totally down."

Benson Muturi, Into Adventure Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"No business for us."

Ibrahim J Mkwizu, Afrishare Trekking & Safaris, Tanzania

"Corona is still a threat but also that clients have no money and most of them are looking for the cheapest option."

Lazaro Edward, Kwesa Tours, Tanzania

"Clients are slowly starting to book again."

JENNIFER TWIKIRIZE, Peak Cruise Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"Still doing badly."

Lazaro Edward, Kilimanjaro Economy Safari, Tanzania

"No recovery yet."

Mary Maguke, Gilmag Safaris Company, Tanzania

"Most clients are asking about the coronavirus situation in Africa. Also they want to know if they still need to present Covid-19 negative certificate (taken not more than 72 hours prior to arrival) even if they have proof that they have been vaccinated against the virus. As tour operators, we would appreciate getting a consistent guideline from the government on issues raised."

Glen Findlay, Go Safari, South Africa

"Compared to May 2020, May 2021 has been much better for us now that travel restrictions are being relaxed. We still have clients postponing to 2022 and potential clients on hold for later this year because of the uncertainty in travel restrictions and flights that can get cancelled. The actual virus seems to be the last thing they are worried about."

Patrick Hanratty, Mmilo Tours, South Africa

"Business still very slow but there some signs of recovery, particularly from US travelers, who are allowed to travel here. I think once groundrules on vaccinated travelling are agreed internationally, then there will be further increases in enquiries and bookings."

Abel Edward Ng'oja, Trek & Hide Adventures, Tanzania

"The global pandemic has been affecting our tourism business since March in 2020, but we have recently seen an increase of safari inquiries! Hopefully, the travel industry will resume again soon. Let's keep our fingers crossed!"

Kennedy, Africanchallenge, Kenya

"Covid 19 keeps on changing every day and new variants come in every time things seem to be improving."

Paul Mothathobi, Squamater Safaris, Botswana

"The pandemic affected us very much just because less clients are inquiring for tours."

Henry Kamau, Dume Africa Trails Ltd, Kenya

"Still no requests currently. We hope to soon see some requests and bookings come in."

Aenea Makoninde, Kilimanjaro Adventure Safari Club, Tanzania

"Business still down for sure."

Munobwa Alexander, Africa Tours Adventure, Uganda

"COVID has brought uncertainties in the travel industry. Most clients fear to commit their deposits out of fear for another lock down, others fear the risk of testing positive on pre departure tests, having to cancel the tour and losing their deposits. Others fear testing positive while on safari and having to quarantine in a different country. As such, most clients want assurance of 100% refund, even on the last minute, which puts us in a big risk as some partners cannot offer refund on last minute cancellation. This has affected the rate of comfirming bookings."

Allen Asiimwe, Shoebill SAFARIS, Uganda

"Still lot of clients cannot travel or do not want to travel."

Ant Bown, Mana Pools Tourism Services, Zimbabwe

"This week our 2020 rebookings for July 2021 all cancelled. We are now starting to see August 2021 cancellations. The only enquiries we have had over the past 6 months have been time-wasters (local guests asking for quotes they will never accept). Things not looking good at all for this season."

Agnes Daniel Lomnyaki, Rhino Explorer Tours & Safaris, Tanzania

"Since the Tanzania government has lifted all bans on international flights from May 18, 2021, we are expecting a recovery of tourism again to Tanzania. We have good hopes with our new president on international relations too. My personal opinion is that we will have a high season in the 4th quarter of the year, especially due to the number of vaccinated increase plus the domestic tourism booming in European countries this summer. We are ready to welcome more travelers to Tanzania."

Albert Marongah, Exciting Africa Holidays, Kenya

"The bookings are still slow."

Martin Daniel Gidawida, Vivutio Expeditions, Tanzania

"The corona outbreak has affected my business negatively and I am about to fail in running it."

Amelia Oosthuyzen, Red Africa Safaris, South Africa

"South Africa is travel safe with all the safety protocols in place and well monitored. We are eagerly awaiting the return of our international clients as so many lives and futures here depends on it."

Annelie Vermeulen, Getaway Africa, South Africa

"At the moment we can only focus on local clients as international clients are not ready to travel due to the South African variant and restrictions."

Geofrey Kimaro, Promised Land Tours Ltd, Tanzania

"We have now started to see an increase in the number requests. In the last month of May we have received 3 requests (which did not converted to bookings), this has not happened since the start of the pandemic. Receiving quote requests give us hope that business is about to recover."

Robert Dimba, African Wanderlust Adventures, Tanzania

"We still receive few bookings. Maybe things will change now that most countries started with providing COVID-19 vaccines to their people."

Agostinella Ribero, Namibia Travel Connection, Namibia

"It is a disaster!"

Wilson Wamugunda, Maasai Mara Train, Kenya

"Very difficult situation at the moment."

Vincent Econyu, Ecovic Tours & Travel Uganda, Uganda

"This second wave of the corona virus pandemic is worse than the first one."

Markus Daniel Schreiner, Zamsato, Zambia

"Inquiries are on the increase again. Especially Americans and Italians contacting us. Bookings are slowly increasing as well. Unfortunately last minute cancellations are on the rise too. This is mainly due to cancelled and rescheduled flights. At least Livingstone and Victoria Falls are having more scheduled flights and can be reached every day."

Jalala, AAA Express Adventure, Tanzania

"Coronavirus has decrease tourism business completely, we hope that after the vaccinations have been administered, it will increase up again."

Michael Ndallo, Northern Circuit Adventure, Tanzania

"We are facing a very difficult situation. We have even closed the office because there is no business due this pandemic."

Amanya Peter, Buyaga Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"The COVID-19 second wave has affected tourism as there are no inquiries coming in."

Mansoor Mohamed, African Pangolin Safaris, Tanzania

"We are still having a hard time. We have received some inquiries, but most of them do not convert in bookings."

Henk, SW Africa Destination Management, South Africa

"It would seem that until enough people have been vaccinated in both the client country and the destination country, things will not return to normal."

Alfred Syanda, Bencia Africa Adventure & Safaris, Kenya

"Business is not good."

Kabazzi Richard, Mukisa Safaris Uganda, Uganda

"Business is getting back to normal. However the constant changes in COVID-19 travel restrictions crate uncertainty among travelers. They now prefer booking last minute, a situation that makes planning challenging."

Lisa, Jumbari Family Safaris, South Africa

"Destination entry requirements change often so we are nervous to confirm any last minute clients, rather look at later in 2021 and 2022."

Aryanyijuka Elias, Home To Africa Tours and Travel, Uganda

"The pandemic has hit us hard, travelers are uncertain about tomorrow, airports come up with new policies before entry. All this affects tourism."

Survey Background information

  • The responses for the surveys were collected between the following dates:
    • July survey: July 2 to 9, 2021
    • June survey: June 1 to 10, 2021
    • May survey: May 6 to 11, 2021
    • April survey: April 2 to 12, 2021
    • March survey: March 2 to 8, 2021
    • February survey: February 9 to 12, 2021
    • January survey: January 6 to 11, 2021
    • December survey: December 1 to 7, 2020
    • November survey: November 4 to 9, 2020
    • October survey: October 1 to 5, 2020
    • September survey: September 1 to 4, 2020
    • August survey: August 3 to 10, 2020
    • July survey: July 2 to 6, 2020
    • June survey: June 3 to 6, 2020
    • May survey: May 11 to 13, 2020
    • April survey: April 7 to 9, 2020
    • March survey: March 3 to 4, 2020
  • A total of 1,746 tour operators were invited to participate in each monthly survey. The number of tours operators who participated in the survey is as follows:
    • July, 2021: 370 tour operators
    • June, 2021: 266 tour operators
    • May, 2021: 195 tour operators
    • April, 2021: 226 tour operators
    • March, 2021: 233 tour operators
    • February, 2021: 300 tour operators
    • January, 2021: 293 tour operators
    • December, 2020: 261 tour operators
    • November, 2020: 303 tour operators
    • October, 2020: 294 tour operators
    • September, 2020: 312 tour operators
    • August, 2020: 344 tour operators
    • July, 2020: 306 tour operators
    • June, 2020: 308 tour operators
    • May, 2020: 374 tour operators
    • April, 2020: 443 tour operators
    • March, 2020: 361 tour operators
  • The response rate:
    • July survey: 21.2% (370 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • June survey: 15,2% (266 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • May survey: 11,2% (195 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • April survey: 12,9% (226 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • March survey: 13,3% (233 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • February survey: 17,2% (300 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • January survey: 16,8% (293 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • December survey: 14,9% (261 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • November survey: 17,4% (303 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • October survey: 16,8% (294 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • September survey: 17,9% (312 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • August survey: 19,7% (344 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • July survey: 17,5% (306 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • June survey: 17,6% (308 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • May survey: 21.4% (374 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • April survey: 25.4% (443 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
    • March survey: 20.7% (361 responses out of 1,746 invited companies)
  • Our rough estimation is that there are about 4,000 safari tour operators in East and southern Africa. So far, the number of tour operators who participated in the surveys represents roughly 6-10% of the estimated total number of tour operators.

 


[1] Africa's US$12.4 billion Safari Industry
The US$12.4 billion is based on the 2018 international tourism receipts of the major safari countries in East and southern Africa, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Source: https://unwto.org/country-profile-inbound-tourism

The major safari countries included in this US$12.4 billion are: Botswana, Kenya Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The UNTWO did not have data for Zimbabwe. For international tourism receipts per country refer to the UNWTO link above.

The total international tourism receipts for these seven countries was US$15.5 billion. Wildlife-watching tourism makes up 80% of the total trip sales according to this UNWTO research paper from 2015: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/1882unwtowildlifepaper.pdf (See page 3, 2nd paragraph.)

About SafariBookings

SafariBookings is the largest online marketplace for African safari tours. Easily compare offers from 3,554 specialized tour operators. Make decisions like a pro by using our 61,835 reviews and 210 destination guides.
More About Us

Blog Categories