Jeroen Beekwilder
Netherlands NL
Jun 8, 2020 June 8, 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:

    • 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:

    • June, 2020: 308 tour operators
    • May, 2020: 374 tour operators
    • April, 2020: 443 tour operators
    • March, 2020: 361 tour operators
  • The response rate:

    • 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?

Pius Momburi, African Spoonbill Tours and Safaris, Tanzania

"All of our booking reservations were received last year (2019) - clients have since cancelled or postponed their journey until they see the situation is safe for travel."

Jumbe Shaban, Dove Adventure, Tanzania

"Since March 2020, tourism collapsed 100%. We hope it might pick up in September by at least 5-15% if the virus is able to be controlled."

Emanuel Julius, Crater Explorer Tours And Safaris, Tanzania

"For sure the corona virus is a very big problem, many clients have cancelled their safari because of corona virus. Due to the corona virus we are having a very hard time in the tourism business."

Simon Munengwa, Africa Beast Safaris, Zimbabwe

"In as much as corona virus is causing panic for travellers, Africa has not been hit that hard, especially countries like Zimbabwe. Here our cases are less than 100 and not increasing."

Jennifer Twikirize, Peak Cruise Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"95% of clients have cancelled. Too bad."

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

"The corona virus has resulted in the tourist Industry coming to a complete standstill in South Africa. Virtually all the Travel Agents, Tour Operators, Destinaton Management Companies and suppliers have no business. Thousands of employees are out of work and many of them struggling to get UIF or Govt funding. Most Tourist Guides are freelance and so far have no financial assistance. Now we have to try and develop a fledgling Domestic Market to survive until international visitors can return."

Safari King Travel, Safari King Travel, Tanzania

"Tanzania is opening up, the number of infected is curvig almost to zero."

Florent Ipananga, Snow Africa Adventures, Tanzania

"We have never experienced anything like this since we opened our business. Life is getting tough. We don't get any enquiries and still cancellations taking place."

Tongesai Mutematsaka, Cultural Vibes Travel & Tours, Zimbabwe

"We are still not able to do business because south africa, being the travel hub which connects all routes within africa, has many cases of covid19."

Ernest Lugalla, Wild Gaze Safaris, Tanzania

"There no bookings or any kind of request from clients at the moment."

Rejeaeli John Nnko, Royal Tiger Tours and Safaris, Tanzania

"Durring the period of the coronavirus pandemic, we have been very affected with no quote requests coming in."

Danielle Smith, Shinzelle Safaris, South Africa

"We would love the opportunity to host guests again while adhering and adapting our operations in the aim of curbing the spread of the virus. Kruger opens on Tuesday for self drive and we hope that we will be able to facilitate Social-Distance Safaris to international clients as soon as the borders open."

Benson Muturi, Into Adventure Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"No business at all due to coronavirus."

Martin Daniel Gidawida, Vivutio Expeditions, Tanzania

"We have not received any bookings from potential clients since the COVID-19 spread worldwide."

Tom Blakey, Wayfairer Travel, United Kingdom

"Most customers have postponed their plans to late 2020 or to 2021. We have some bookings for that time period but very few compared to 'normal' times."

Benard Nzavi, Nzavid Travels, Kenya

"The coronavirus has totally devastated my tour business."

Abdallah Ramadhan Allly, Uhuru Travel & Tours, Tanzania

"Things are still unpredictable, no-one knows the future of tourism business."

Edward Lore, Triumph Travel Kenya, Kenya

"Corona killed my business."

Martha, Big Time Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"At the moment customers are not willing to make any reservations due to Covid-19."

Sarah Boeckmann, Extraordinary Journeys, United States

"Inquiries are almost down to zero. We had a trickle but they are just dreamers. 70% of our bookings are being postponed to 2021."

Annette Sirikwa, Africa Safari Experts, Tanzania

"We are experiencing mostly cancellations and rescheduling of tours to next year. No departures until August, and even for August reservations the clients are already rescheduling. No new bookings at all since March."

Alym Bhanji, East Africa Wild Adventures Ltd, Canada

"A few bookings for 2021 but 2020 is done and down the toilet."

Silas Owiti Otieno, Apodiformes Adventures, Kenya

"We are greatful that that the situation globally is improving each day."

Patrick Gitau, Expedition Kenya Safari, Kenya

"I remain optimistic!"

Bwire Sedrick, NGONI Safaris Uganda, Uganda

"Corona virus has damaged the tourism sector, most especially in Uganda and Kenya where businesses may resume after parks have been re-opened."

Brian Timboi, Tropical Cats Tours, Kenya

"The corona virus has affected our business - we don't get any bookings from new or regular clients. We are asking our business partners, like you, to support us and tell us what to do to get back to our normal situation."

Mohamed Kambi, Mwituni Safaris, Tanzania

"I think using masks, washing hands and having temperature checks at Park entry gates would help a lot."

Fredrick Oketch, Fede Tours, Kenya

"We are just waiting for the international borders to open, then we expect to regain some business but as for now Covid-19 is really affecting us so much. No bookings or enquiries."

Martin Vigambo, Earthwings Tours and Safari, Kenya

"Business is not normal - no bookings for the last 3 months."

Paul Mbaya Shamola, Shalom Safaris, Kenya

"Corona virus has brought the tourism industry to a standstill, although we are looking for ways to contain it, and to live through it."

Jacob Loserian, African Wildcats Expeditions Company, Tanzania

"Coronavirus affected my business 100%. I haven't received any requests or bookings since March, further I had cancellations and refunds that I had to give to clients."

Dennis Solomon, Drones Africa Safaris, Kenya

"This pandemic has completely affected us."

Exaud Kisamo, Tx Safari And Adventures, Tanzania

"COVID- 19 has damaged the Hospitality and Tourism industry worldwide and will continue to do so for a good few more months into 2021. It is time to resume our services for travellers worldwide. LIFE MUST GO ON WITH COVID -19"

Bruno Ominde, Affable Tours & Safaris, Kenya

"Coronavirus has been a nightmare in our tourism industry, it has wounded everything. The safari business is no longer the same. But all in all, our hopes are still alive. We shall rise again, we shall shine again, we shall bounce back stronger like never before."

Sanjay Shoor, Shoor Safaris, Kenya

"Covid-19 has decimated business for our company and the only enquiries we have had are for 2021. It is our estimate that peak season in East Africa will not achieve 50% capacity this time around."

Exaudi John, Allure African Safaris Ltd, Tanzania

"The coronavirus affected our safari business so much and it was so sudden, but I want to let our clients know that Tanzania is ready to receive and serve them with high levels of precautions in place as directed by our Healthy Ministry and by the World Health Organization."

Wilson Wamugunda, Maasai Mara Train, Kenya

"It is unspeakable. For the last 4 months I haven't heard from any tourists about requests for safari information or pricing."

Victor, Karibu Safaris In Kenya, Kenya

"We don’t have bookings, and we don’t have money to pay salaries for staff, office rental etc. Things are really bad."

Kathi Simon, African Welcome Safaris, South Africa

"Tourism is still very very flat."

Daniel Muthui, Titan Tours And Travel, Kenya

"It's still bad and we are hoping in a short time to restore tourist confidence in visiting our country."

Charles Benjamin Amas, Safari Trackers Adventure, Tanzania

"Due to Corona virus our safari business has been paused for a while, but we have some hope for business this year as some countries are reopening and removing some travel restrictions."

Nestor Minjale, Selous Explorer, Tanzania

"Corona Virus is affecting more than 75% of my safari business. I normally receive more than 30 inquiries per week but nowadays I receive only 1 inquiry per month which is very bad."

Stephen Odongo, Kichaka Tours and Travel, Kenya

"We are having challenges meeting our financial obligations as our sources of income are dry."

Nick Coetzer, Buya Buya Travel & Tours, South Africa

"The most devastating impact on South African tourism imaginable!"

Edison Ndayambaje, Bamboo Ecotours, Uganda

"Not knowing when international borders and airports will open is limiting clients to confirm bookings in the last quarter of 2020."

Janet Chamia, Netherken Safaris & Tours, Kenya

"Clients are asking to postpone their safari and we have agreed."

George Munge, Northland Tanzania Safaris Ltd, Tanzania

"In Tanzania the government is taking very serious measures to make sure all incoming tourists will be healthy, but we are still experiencing a lot of cancellations."

Haron Gashao, African Sunset Safaris, Kenya

"Very bad."

Patricia Guiu, Mi Viaje Expedicion Ltd, Tanzania

"You have to start selling in Tanzania because here all airports have opened."

Augustine Nzungu, Run Wild Tours & Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"The pandemic has caused a pause in the tourism industry since no flights are on air yet clients are still apprehensive about travelling duel to the nature of the virus infections."

Modi Ngoyeji, Wild Tanzania Safari & Adventures, Tanzania

"Simply there is no any booking or enquiries."

Jacob Kereiya, Mazingira, Tanzania

"MY THOUGHT WE MAY KEEP GIVE OUR CLIENTS MORE OFFERS AS TO AMEND CANCELLATION POLICY, LOWER PRICE AS HOTELS DID OR CHANGE, SAFARIBOOKING POLICY TO PAY COMMISION ONLY FOR THE CONFIRMED SAFARIS BUT TO CHARGE PER INQUIRY"

Anton van Veldhuijzen, Africa Cycling VOF, Netherlands

"We dont have any booking or request on the moment since the LockDown started"

Paul S M Ndege, Pam Tours and Travel Ltd, Kenya

"ITS HAS BROUGHT US TO THE KNEES BUT WE TRUST ALL OF US TO SPROUT SOON. THANKS"

Esther Omoche, AsaRay Tours, Kenya

"Corona has definitely effected our booking request levels and increased cancellations. For now there isn't much we can do but we choose to embark on putting a digital marketing strategy in place post covid-19. We look forward to a better tomorrow"

Albert Marongah, Exciting Africa Holidays, Kenya

"IT HAS CAUSED SERIOUS SOCIAL ECONOMIC IMPACT ON OUR SAFARI BUSINESS. Thank you, Albert."

Firoz Suleman, Sunny Safaris Ltd., Tanzania

"Enquiries have started coming, few confirmation for Sept 2020 onwards from European Countries, Canadians postponed bookings instead of cancelling, USA have cancelled all bookings. sunnysafaris.com sunnysafaris.co.tz (construction)"

Ernest Chiwanga, Worldwide Safaris Tanzania Ltd, Tanzania

"No business up to now"

Andre, Safari With Us, South Africa

"Still very negative but light at the end of the tunnel"

Mansoor Mohamed, African Pangolin Safaris, Tanzania

"We are still facing hard time we did not receive quote request or any new booking. Our country already open our airspace for international flight but still no many tourist, hopefully next month. This is because most of the European countries they don't allow their citizens to go out of their country."

Tammy Chaplin, Remarkable Africa, Australia

"No activity for new bookings at this stage and all 2020 bookings postponed to 2021"

Wilson William, African Expedia, Tanzania

"Coronavirus is killing our business."

bryson, Safari soles, Tanzania

"my take is most of our safari clients do plan well in advance example by June we would have already received over 65% of our bookings for the peak season (July, August, September), there are now few inquiries but I don't see us matching even 30% of the numbers we did last year"

Fredina, African Scenery Holidays,

"Tourism sector has really gone down,we have no new quotes and the ones which where in progress they stopped responding and others postponed,while other clients cancelled the safaris"

Wild Dog Adventure Tanzania, Wild Dog Adventure Tanzania, Tanzania

"No comment at the moment. I hope this virus will end very soon!!"

Carlo Froneman, HME Crafted Holidays, South Africa

"All bookings until 2021 cancelled. No-one requested a change in dates."

George Oketch, Right Choice Tours & Safaris, Kenya

"The travel ban and lockdown here locally means all our airport remains shut."

Albina Sakeus, People Tours And Safari Cc, Namibia

"We are forced to sell some off our vehicle and retrenchment off our employee"

Shauri Kondo Abdallah, Zanzibar Nature Trails, Tanzania

"We closed our business totally as all our bookingds till January’21 we cancelled"

Glen Findlay, Go Safari, South Africa

"The safari industry in South Africa is still dead but we have moved to level 3 so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Local business travel is allowed now but still no leisure or international travel."

Oscar, Zambezi Expedition Travel and Tours, Zimbabwe

"We absolutely dont have any business or bookings confirming for the year 2020.Most of my bookings has been canceled some of my Clients have postponed .No income generated in my Safari business I'm still hoping that things might turn around for the better of my business its hectic."

Vincent Kerich, La Mara Tourism, Kenya

"We don’t have any requests now, the pandemic has completely shutdown travel."

Sylwia Boniecka, KAMar Safaris, Tanzania

"totally broken due to situation with coronavirus"

Lodaru Mollel, Dusty Roads Adventures & Tours, Tanzania

"I would like to say tourism sector in Tanzania is affected by more 75%. As a service provider we are experiencing a few number of inquiry for now and its seems like this situation might continuing till to the end of the year depending on how corona viruses cases decreases. By Dusty Roads."

Eutychus Mbuthia, Baisy Oryx Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"Currently we are really down with guests still adopting a "wait and see" approach even as international borders open by and by. In my opinion 2020 season is gone. We are now focusing on 2021. Any business that we get for the remainder of 2020 will be a bonus."

Natasha Iles, AfriFriends, South Africa

"Open up International Airports in South Africa so we can start taking in Bookings or give us an approximate date of when it will open. Receiving enquiries from International Tourists but have no idea when our Airports will open to start been able to take bookings in!"

Raymond Sangawe, Tanzania Voyages Limited, Tanzania

"Coronavirus has affected the tourism industry because healthy security is a paramount for everybody, so I hope things will be okay when the Covid19 is gone or slowing down and the businesses will resume."

Andre Bongers, Nyati Travel & Tours, Zimbabwe

"To date no air access to Zimbabwe. 3 weeks quarantain requirement"

Helene, CrissCross Namibia Safaris, Namibia

"90% of 2020 bookings could be postponed to 2021 as we guarantee NO increase in price for postponed bookings. Most clients from foreign countries (U.S.A, Europe, Australia etc.) are worried about available flights and price increases for tickets for 2021."

Terry Murphy, African Budget Safaris (South Africa), South Africa

"Corona Virus has all but wiped out new enquiries for 2020 departures. With borders closed, flight issues and insurance cover been uncertain the likelyhood of the industry recovering this year is extreamly low. The global economy will also have a major impact on travel for 2021 and a prediction of 20% of normal bookings occuring in the first quarter of 2021 is not unrealistic should lockdown restrictions ease."

Nicolaus, Mali Kale Africa Safaris, Tanzania

"Corona virus its really many cancellation and spoil all our plans for 2020. Our expectation is 2021. For a mean while we dont have any confirmation booking."

Samuel Mutua, MayDaySay Tours and Travel Company, Kenya

"We hope that, all will normalize soon as business is low"

Patrick Hanratty, Mmilo Tours, South Africa

"It is still not possible to say when bookings and travel to South Africa will resume"

Albert Ouko Janeno, African Home Adventure Safaris, Kenya

"No confirmed booking since the beginning of the pandemic."

Bernhard W Bekker, Private Kruger Safaris, South Africa

"We have no business and are facing a very bad situation and might have to close both our Safari Tour Operators companies in South Africa."

Moses Sizya, Sweet Memory Adventure, Tanzania

"Now it seems to be better"

Le Li, Sino Africa Safari, Kenya

"We don't have any business until December 2021. Almost all hotels are temporarily closed in Kenya because of lock down policy, this includes our good partner Fairmont hotels. We don't expect any business for this year, but we are busy preparing for next year. We hope next year won't be affected."

Cul Tours and Safaris, Cul Tours and Safaris, Uganda

"Corona-virus impact on Uganda tourism is clearly visible with the country on lock down & no business"

Roberto de Sibi, Savannah Explorers Ltd, Tanzania

"Most of the safaris have been postponed, some cancelled. The few remaining could be postponed or cancelled in next days. We don't confirm a new bookings since last February and can't see any real sign the emergency is over. We keep hope for next months."

James Oketch, Twinkle Star Tours and Safaris, Kenya

"Corona virus is a blow to our Tourism industries. The sector needs to be checked and a lot needed to be revamped so that the sector could get back into its knees as soon as possible."

Joseph Mwangi Wakaba, Mufasa Tours and Travels, Kenya

"Business in Kenya is shut down and we may go up to the end of August to partially recover from this pandemic. Based on communication with about 20 tour operators in Kenya whom we work with is that many will go offline from Safaribookings since many bookings will be of 2021 and won't be sure since many clients are worried about their safety. It will be too expensive to afford normal administration costs and still pay Safaribookings quote requests. But we all hope to be well soon so we can go back to our normal work and operations."

Amanya Peter, Buyaga Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"COVID-19 has affected tourism and Uganda's economy is expected to lose 1.6 billion dollars. Small businesses have started closing."

Michael Ndallo, Northern Circuit Adventure, Tanzania

"We have been experienced a lots of cancellations due to COVID19."

Isa Satheba, Extremely Wild Safaris, Botswana

"Its toughest season ever. We don't know when this pandemic will come to a cul de sac.."

Nabira Hakim, Afrikakukaye Tours and Safaris Ltd, Tanzania

"Silence, we have guests asking for cancellations and postponements. We have no business since the pandemic started."

Joshua Monah, Joash Africa Wilderness Insight, Tanzania

"Corona Virus has impacted 100% of our Safari business."

Joseph Aliganyira, Kubwa Five Safaris, Uganda

"It is better to reschedule the safari rather than canceling."

Richard Hilton, Greatest Africa, South Africa

"Our travel business is at a standstill with ZERO enquiries."

Ute Sonnenberg, Roho Ya Chui, South Africa

"No cancellations, all clients are requesting to postpone"

 



 

[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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