Jeroen Beekwilder
Netherlands NL
Aug 11, 2020 August 11, 2020

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

Background information

  • The responses for the surveys were collected between the following dates:
    • 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:
    • 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:
    • 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 7-10% of the estimated total number of tour operators.

What do tour operators have to say about the impact?

Lazaro Edward, Kwesa Tours, Tanzania

"Yes, the coronavirus pandemic has affected big my safari business. Last year at this time we received over 15 enquiries and around 5 were converted into bookings, but nowadays we have had only two: one declined, another one pending. But at least we are starting to get some enquiries – we hope that soon it will be business as usual."

Fred Kateregga, Gorilla Safaris Uganda Travel, Uganda

"No inquires, we have only been refunding deposits that we have received."

Alym Bhanji, East Africa Wild Adventures Ltd, Canada

"There have been 2 new bookings only since March and both for 2021 (June and November). Nothing for 2020 as clients are scared of travelling and I do not want to push them."

Nelson Mbise, Focus in Africa, Tanzania

"There are pretty much signs that some recovery will begin, probably in the next month once the border between Tanzania and Kenya opens, and as more flights are starting – we believe that the chances are high that business will improve by at least 50%."

Mary Maguke, Gilmag Safaris Company, Tanzania

"As a tour operator, I would like to see nations ease lockdown on airspace, and no 14-day quarantine on tourists."

Marco Mang'ulo, Shoveller Safari Experience Ltd, Tanzania

"Things are still not the way they used to be, and it’s impossible to guess when the situation will return to normal."

Gerald Gebra Tilya, Africa Outland Tours, Tanzania

"Awful"

Tammy Chaplin, Remarkable Africa, Australia

"Zero business still."

Janet Kemunto Magoma, Javiva Adventures, Kenya

"There is no business at all, coravirus has already done so much harm to the Safari business."

samuel Walugembe Colin, Vacation Uganda Car Rental, Uganda

"Now the borders are opening we are receiving a few inquiries from people who want to travel should the remaining borders open and quarantine rules not apply anymore."

Benson Kenneth Otieno, Kikwetu Cultural Adventures, Kenya

"This pandemic has hit the tourism industry hard. Worst hit are the African tour operators. I would therefore like to request that African governments do whatever it takes to work closely with tourism stakeholders to ensure Covid safety protocols are adhered to. In that way, we can slowly but surely win the hearts of tourists and return tourism back to its previous levels. Millions are employed in this sector and therefore each one of us has to play his/her role to ensure that we are back on track."

Romeo Rwezaura, Safari Multiways, Tanzania

"Corona virus has adversely affected my safari business. Very few requests have been received. And of those few, none have turned out to be bookings. Cancellations have been pushed into next year. I have not dispatched even a single safari car since the outbreak began."

Jesse Tom Kitanywa, Lifetime Experience Safaris, Uganda

"Looks like we might not have business until December because the most affected countries are the ones with potential customers."

David, Fahari Uganda Safaris, Uganda

"Business is down completely. But we remain hopeful of a turn around in a couple of months!"

Taddese Atlaw, Senait Ethiopia Tours, Ethiopia

"Thank you."

Kawesa Ahamed, Bright Safaris Uganda, Uganda

"This pandemic has affected the tourism sector to the extent that since February I have not received any quotes or bookings for safaris."

Abdallah Ramadhan Allly, Uhuru Travel & Tours, Tanzania

"It's not business as usual, things have changed and we can not afford to pay the office rent."

Julien Perreard, Giltedge Africa, South Africa

"It is having a devastating affect on new business. Confirmed business has mostly been postponed but very little new business has being written in the last few months."

Lisa, Jumbari Family Safaris, South Africa

"We are receiving some enquiries, but they are 75% down year on year."

Felix Malingu, Marhaba Holidays, Kenya

"With the resumption of international flights, alongside newly laid out safety and health precautions, we are hopeful of a return to normalcy within the tourism industry. (Kenya)"

Patrick Gitau, Expedition Kenya Safari, Kenya

"The peak in domestic tourism is a good indication of a bright future."

Lina Robert Mushi, Edstates Africa Tours & Travel, Tanzania

"We are very affected by the pandemic, and we are new in this Industry. We have experienced a total decline in our business."

Robert Dimba, African Wanderlust Adventures, Tanzania

"Since the Covid-19 outbreak we haven't done any business and we aren’t expecting any bookings for future business at the moment. Some booking that we had for this year did cancel without saying when they would resume."

Sonia Moradian, Lemasani Safari, Tanzania

"The impact of the virus is global and has been devastating for many people. Of course, the safari business in Tanzania is no exception. We have seen a decrease of more than 90% in bookings and requests, and we have been closed for more than 4 months now. We are seeing a slow wave of travellers in Tanzania return but it is difficult to know yet what the entire impact of Covid-19 will have on the tourism industry in Tanzania."

Alan Dixson, Lets Go Travel Uniglobe, Kenya

"No enquiries or business for this year, a few enquiries for next year."

Go Wild Safaris, Go Wild Safaris, South Africa

"RSA is a great risk for Covid 19."

Esther Omoche, AsaRay Tours, Kenya

"The pandemic has definitely affected business in the negative causing both low business / lack of business. However, but on the other hand it has indeed caused us to think deeper about our business model, which has resulted in us designing a more strategic model that will be able to remain viable even in a crisis."

Jane Bettenay, Ulinda Safari Trails, Botswana

"Completely devastated our business."

Onne Vegter, Wild Wings Safaris, South Africa

"With basic safety protocols, tourism can be conducted safely. It is time for governments to start opening up flights and borders."

Joshua nnko, Gombe Track Safaris & Tours, Tanzania

"75% of our business is affected by Coronavirus."

Eutychus Mbuthia, Baisy Oryx Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"Well, business is really sluggish at the moment although most countries have opened international borders. In spite of the safety protocols in place, potential clients are still not convinced enough about their safety at the airports, in the aircraft and also at the destinations themselves."

Emanuel Kavishe, African Big Cats Safaris, Tanzania

"Many clients are still canceling their booked safari due to the Coronavirus."

Jalala, AAA Express Adventure, Tanzania

"Business is very bad."

Ahmed Khan, Wildness Safari Tanzania, Tanzania

"Still tourists are afraid to travel."

Exaud Kisamo, Tx Safari And Adventures, Tanzania

"Things have been so tough for the past 6 months.... but thank God a few countries have started opening up their skies and borders."

Karanja Njiiri, Features Africa Journeys, Kenya

"We have had 100% cancellations, and not sure how some countries will handle travel to Africa in the future."

Mooshe Monah, Joash Africa Wilderness Insight, Tanzania

"We haven't received any booking yet since June."

JENNIFER TWIKIRIZE, Peak Cruise Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"Tourism is totally down. Nothing is happening ."

Kabazzi Richard, Mukisa Safaris Uganda, Uganda

"Business is at its lowest due to the pandemic. Very little revenue is coming in from the domestic market. However, we remain hopeful that we will resume as soon as the situation gets to normal, or when travelers and governments get to adapt to working/living with the virus."

Akello Sylvesters' {simon}, Wild Race Africa, Kenya

"Corona virus has affected all our travel operations. We are working from home but things have not yet returned to normalcy. Hopefully with time they will. Thanks."

AMANI MASUE, Maredori Travel And Tours, Tanzania

"We are still in trouble."

Ute Sonnenberg, Roho Ya Chui, South Africa

"Clients postpone, not cancel."

Audwin S de Wet, Evolution Travel and Tours, Namibia

"Covid-19 has affected our business negatively, and caused us to lose some of our staff members as most of our clients have cancelled for this year."

Jacob Richard Moshi, Smile with us tours in Africa, Tanzania

"Corona affects our industry."

Pius Kimati, Gundua Africa Adventures Ltd, Tanzania

"It is not an easy thing to talk about, life has gone completely down, we cannot pay staff, people are struggling to cross this border of life without work. Regardless that our country is quite safe to visit, but still no people are coming – I suppose it’s due to their countries facing a travel ban from the EU. Hope once this is relaxed then possibly we might start seeing new bookings."

Brian Timboi, Tropical Cats Tours, Kenya

"Corona is really killing a big percentage of the tourism business."

CArlson Robert Mbise, Travel Africa Safari Agency, Tanzania

"A lot of the clients are failing to come due to cancellation of their flights and also restrictions in their countries. Also, most clients are preferring to travel in the future."

Martin Daniel Gidawida, Vivutio Expeditions, Tanzania

"We expected to received more bookings and payments but due to the covid-19 outbreak we are experiencing cancelled bookings from our potential clients."

Frank Benoit Kanyamutara, Golden Rwanda Safaris, Rwanda

"Yes, we have been experiencing low requests during this pandemic period, but we hope to get new bookings as we have opened flights to the world. Hopefully, soon everything will return to normal."

JP Ribeiro, Dunas Safari, Namibia

"Since end of March no business, only locals and repatriation flights."

Naiman Meyassy, Quest Horizon Safaris, Tanzania

"I think Corona has affected my business by 100%."

Bongizwe Madondo, Southern Tours and Safaris, South Africa

"The travel industry in South Africa is completely dead. No bookings or requests. We hope early next year things will change."

Geofrey Kimaro, Promised Land Tours Ltd, Tanzania

"Recently some countries have started to re-open their skies to allow international flights, lets use this opportunity to promote the business."

Wilson William, African Expedia, Tanzania

"Countries should open up the borders."

Paul Mbaya Shamola, Shalom Safaris, Kenya

"The corona virus brought safari business to a standstill in my country, although the international flights have resumed, so we expect clients in a couple of months God willing."

Diane Ninsiima, Chigo Tours, Uganda

"Our airport is still closed. We are left with small breathing space with limited domestic travel."

Stuart, AfriVenture, South Africa

"Currently, South African tourism operators including ourselves need to stop the bleeding. The Covid 19 is going to have an immense impact on tourism's foreseable future. There will be a bounce back, how rapidly is another question…"

Hedmond Emuna, Home To Africa Tours and Travel, Uganda

"As Home To Africa , we have had to adjust our booking and cancellation policies to give room for new bookings and also keep already confirmed safaris."

Agostinella Ribero, Namibia Travel Connection, Namibia

"In Southern Africa, namely Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, our tourism is suffering badly without our usual international clients. Many places have closed until further notice, many people have lost their jobs. It's really sad times for tourism."

Anne Bright, Mega Wild Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"The Coronavirus has impacted tourism negatively, especially international tourism. We hope it returns to normalcy soon."

 


[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.)

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