File picture: Ian Landsberg / African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Ian Landsberg / African News Agency (ANA)

Africa's tour operators hit hard by Covid-19

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Apr 14, 2020

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Cape Town – Africa's safari industry has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with tour operators experiencing at least a 75% decline in business, a new survey showed.

Online marketplace for safari tours, SafariBookings.com, conducted a survey with 443 safari tour operators, the majority based in Africa, to weigh the impact of Covid-19.

It found that 90% of tour operators were experiencing at least a 75% drop in new bookings.

In a “worrying result” for the safari industry, declines in new bookings and large-scale cancellations of existing bookings, are continuing.

Tour operators generally expressed a sense of uncertainty and concern for the welfare of their staff and businesses.

Phillip Conradie of Africa Windows Safaris and Tours based in South Africa said every tour for the year was cancelled. 

“Those tours for which payments had been made are being postponed indefinitely, most likely into 2021,” Conradie said.

Exaud Kisamo of Tx Safari And Adventures in Tanzania said: “Covid-19 has really destroyed our business. We have staff who entirely depend on this industry for their survival. 

"99% of people who depend on tourism are at home, getting half their salary, but soon they will get unpaid leave.”

Augustine Nzungu, of Run Wild Tours and Safaris Ltd in Kenya, said the tourism industry in the country had been brought to its knees.

“Many employees are on unpaid leave while in (the) worst cases they have been laid off,” Nzungu said.

Goof de Jong of Nyati Travel and Tours in Zimbabwe said: “It is doubtful if we can recover. The post-corona era will see less leisure travel, due to loss of disposable income and the fear to move.”

Derek Jacobs of Blue Crane Safaris Namibia expressed hope.

“At the moment all our tour vehicles are parked and all workers are at home under self-isolation.

“We hope that this coronavirus will end soon as we can only keep up to pay our staff another two months of salaries and then we will not be able to afford it anymore as there is no cash-flow.

“We are very worried, but also positive and know we will be running tours again as normal.”

A survey by SafariBookings.com found that more than 90% of tour operators were experiencing at least a 75% fall in new bookings.

Cape Times

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