Jeroen Beekwilder
Netherlands NL
Dec 8, 2020 December 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

What do tour operators have to say about the impact?

Johnson Mule, Lion Rider Tours And Safaris, Kenya

"Clients are fearing to travel at this time but once a vaccine is approved, then things will be back to normal."

Paul Mwendwa, Kenya Expresso Tours and Safaris, Kenya

"From March to June things were not good but from August to the current date things are changing for the better."

Alex Shembago, Usambara Expeditions, Tanzania

"Covid-19 has affected 75% of our businesses - we have experienced a lot of cancellation due to a caution about travel , flight cancellation and travel insurance ."

Lisa, Jumbari Family Safaris, South Africa

"We are hoping early next year for things to pick up. Unfortunately, airlines are cancelling flights so clients are not able to travel. Logistically it is still very difficult. Clients are also concerned countries will go into lock down again with 2nd and 3rd waves of virus infections."

Justine Mwimo, Shammah Wonders Safari Ltd, Tanzania

"Coronavirus has affected my business big time!"

Esther Omoche, AsaRay Tours, Kenya

"Safari business is definitely affected in the negative! At this time of the year we don't have a single booking for Christmas which is not our normal. We pray that the vaccine will become available soon."

Janet Chamia, Netherken Safaris & Tours, Kenya

"Still no business!"

Angoma Abubakari, African Finfoot Safaris, Uganda

"I urge all of us to remain vigilant and use the standard operating procedures as prescribed by WHO."

Bartholomew Lucas Fissoo, Serengeti Wakanda Tours and Safaris, Tanzania

"Honestly things aren’t going really well, nobody knew the pandemic would turn out to be this serious and impactful to the tourism industry globally for the whole of 2020. We just hope the vaccines will be a success because that’s our only hope to get back in business fully!"

David John Maro, Kili Slope Tours And Safaris Ltd, Tanzania

"We are still in a bad situation because some of the clients don't realize that if they have canceled their tour then a refund is not going to be available straight away. They need to wait because tour operators are struggling financially while we wait for the credit notes from the lodges."

Geofrey Kimaro, Promised Land Tours Ltd, Tanzania

"Since the eruption of this pandemic my business has suffered so much, we have no idea when exactly our business will resume operating at least at 50% capacity of pre-covid times."

David, Fahari Uganda Safaris, Uganda

"It has been tough. I guess things will pick up in the second half of 2021."

Bwire Sedrick, NGONI Safaris Uganda, Uganda

"I think business will recover after a vaccination becomes available."

paul Wassaka, Gorilla Safaris Uganda Travel, Uganda

"Corona virus added to the political uncertainty in Uganda, we are really doing very badly."

Margaret Wambui Kinuthia, Marstafrica Tours and Travel, Kenya

"We are receiving zero business at the moment. The pandemic has affected our business very badly."

Silas Odembo, Safari Update Travels, Kenya

"We have no business at all."

Edmond, Claudious Tours & Safaris, Kenya

"It has really affected our business."

Doris kanje, Peacemakers Expedition & Safari, Tanzania

"Due to the pandemic ,the corona virus is affecting the business in many ways . Though border crossings are free and there is no quarantine in Tanzania, the coronavirus-affected countries are still worried as very few can understand how a third world country is surviving without the pandemic really being present here. A huge number of families were dependent on the safari industry either directly or indirectly . We still need to bring awareness to the world that Tanzania is safe for their trips . We hope people understand and life will go back to normal."

Fred Namwandu, Monkey Adventures, Kenya

"Things looked slightly positive, but the second wave of the pandemic has led to a lot of postponed plans and cancelled bookings. Hope the situation improves soon."

Regina Atamba Kamugyene, Pamoja Tours and Travel, Uganda

"Corona virus has led to many safari cancellations."

Robert Dimba, African Wanderlust Adventures, Tanzania

"No business since February. A lot of cancellations"

Andre, Safari With Us, South Africa

"The hoped for recovery has not yet happened. Our borders are open but the second and third waves in many countries are keeping demand low. Flights are also a problem. No flights or flights being cancelled. The next few months are critical for our business so we hope for a strong recovery in 2021."

Emanuel Kavishe, African Big Cats Safaris, Tanzania

"We are experiencing more cancellations than normal."

Michael Ndallo, Northern Circuit Adventure, Tanzania

"Business is very bad."

Jacob Kereiya, Mazingira, Tanzania

"A simple look at the tourism market will tell you that coronavirus has led to a volatile economy, but there are numerous other factors at play. The initial outbreak of the coronavirus in the Tourism sector disrupted global supply chains. A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending March 21 as coronavirus-induced layoffs surge around the US where we receive many clients from. Even when the short-term effects end, the long-term economic impact will be felt for years as most people are afraid to spend their money because they don't know what will happen tomorrow."

Zepha, RA Safaris, Tanzania

"Coronavirus is making our lives crazy as there is no business!! In the tourism industry, it's the worst situation ever!! We really pray a vaccine comes along soon and improves the situation!!"

Samuel Kateyenge, Katsam Adventures, Uganda

"Coronavirus has created a big negative impact in the travel industry – not only in Uganda or even Africa but globally. We hope for the best possible outcome for next year."

Kassim Omar Kassim, The Expert Holidays, Tanzania

"Corona has stopped everything and we do not have any customers."

Benson Muturi, Into Adventure Safaris Ltd, Kenya

"It's the hardest time for the tourism sector with still no business – we're hoping next year will be better."

JAMES MUCHEMI, Saunterland Africa Tours, Kenya

"It is not business as usual due to travel restrictions across the globe."

James Oketch, Twinkle Star Tours and Safaris, Kenya

"These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. Our hopes lie in the recently established vaccines from the USA, that if they work, could make everything go back to normal sooner than expected. We have had a huge number of cancellations and postponements of tours. We will wait and see what happens...."

Lenox Eric Luzuvi, Axis Africa Expedition & Safaris, Kenya

"2020 is dead and buried in regards to tourism, we can only hope for a better 2021."

Romeo Rwezaura, Safari Multiways, Tanzania

"The safari business is still very low. I do receive a few enquiries. But the number of enquires that end up as booking is below 10%. I think another factor is the price. The global economy has slumped, the clients expect lower prices. In Tanzania, park fees and other costs have not been reduced. Kenya and Uganda had their entry fees and other costs reduced."

Onne Vegter, Wild Wings Safaris, South Africa

"Most of Europe remains in lockdown. The US is at the peak of the pandemic. People remain very nervous and hesitant to book, in spite of the fact that airlines and the tourism industry across Africa have put robust protocols in place to ensure the safety of guests and minimise the risk of infection."

Martin Daniel Gidawida, Vivutio Expeditions, Tanzania

"No clients have recently made bookings with us due to the pandemic."

Arch Treks and Safaris, Arch Treks and Safaris, Kenya

"Various country-to-country restrictions, the covid-19 free certificates and mandatory quarantine are all effecting the tourism numbers."

Charles Kiviu, Classic Journeys Africa, Kenya

"We hope that a vaccine is rolled out soon."

Markus Daniel Schreiner, Zamsato, Zambia

"No cancellations. The bookings we get are very last minute from tourists already in Zambia."

Caren Awour Achieng, Image Travel Limited, Kenya

"We do hope the safari industry will pick up and get back to normal soon since there is good news for the Pandemic vaccination."

Wilmke Offereins, I Dream of Africa, Tanzania

"No requests and all bookings have been cancelled. Only one agreed on a new date in 2021. Others are postponing their decision."

Ben Jennings, E-Trip Africa, United States

"Over the past month we have seen a solid increase in clients requesting quotes. Many are waiting to see how the vaccines change the situation before they feel confident to finalize their booking, but what is sure is that they want to travel."

James Meadrd, Swahili Paradise Tours & Safaris, Tanzania

"No, no client come for safari from the UK and most of them are cancelling now."

Anne And Levina, Twins adventures & safaris, Tanzania

"Now, not many cancellations but few enquiries also."

Amelia Oosthuyzen, Red Africa Safaris, South Africa

"The coronavirus affected our business with a loss of more than 80% of business. Most of our clients who booked have postponed until 2021, the rest cancelled, leaving us with virtually no income for 2020. A lot of us in the tourism industry are hanging on by less than a thread and in most cases, have closed permanently. Here our banks have tried to assist but only upto a point, as they don't realize that the tourism industry is the most hard hit."

Silas Owiti Otieno, Apodiformes Adventures, Kenya

"With the Vaccine coming we remain Hopeful!"

Michael Mwangi, Tsavo Cats Tours and Safaris, Kenya

"The biggest challenge for most travelers is that the fares for flights are too high. Then in some countries like Tanzania, the Covid -19 certificate is not needed, therefore safaris are very easy to go on at any time tourists are willing to travel."

Vincent Swai, Hazzes Adventure Ltd, Tanzania

"No cancellations but we receive less Bookings."

Loice Chege, Smile with us tours in Africa, Tanzania

"Coronavirus affects all of my business."

Vivid Adventure Safaris Ltd, Vivid Adventure Safaris Ltd, Uganda

"I have not received any booking requests since corona virus started."

Daniel Mbugua, BigFoot-Adventures Kenya, Kenya

"Corona Virus has practically halted travel."

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

"I think there is no way our travel industry can get back to normal (as it use to be) without the official release, announcement and effective use of the Covid-19 vaccination in the developed countries (where most of the tourists originate). The uncertainty is still too high to travel at the moment. Even for those clients who want to risk it they end up postponing their trips several times hoping for positive developments that will boost their confidence before leaving their home country for vacation."

Isaac Musyoki, Best Memory Safaris, Kenya

"We still can't report any better results."

George Oketch, Right Choice Tours & Safaris, Kenya

"Undoubtedly, Covid-19 has brought the travel and tourism sector to a halt, owing to cancellation of international flights and movement restrictions in and out of the City of Nairobi and the coastal City of Mombasa."

Peter Kuria, Kibera Holiday Safaris, Kenya

"Most clients want to know what the situation of covid-19 is in our country before booking a trip to come and visit."

Miguel Bruno, Bushfind, Mozambique

"People are afraid to travel for a safari! I don’t understand it because if they get a fear of crowds, where are the crowds on a safari? And about the flights to get there....flying with all those new rules are very safe! I really don’t understand this fear! Really!"

PIUS MOMBURI, African Spoonbill Tours and Safaris, Tanzania

"We have lost almost 99% of our clients from covid19."

Stacey, Memorable Journeys, Zambia

"The Pandemic has killed tourism with less that 5% of international vistors, while there has been a 10% increase in the domestic market, which is a result of borders being closed."

Daniel Francis, Transtrek Safaris, United Kingdom

"The international travel restrictions are having a huge impact on us. We are starting to see cancellations for early 2021 due to flight cancellations, and many of these were postponements from this year."

Nicolaus, Mali Kale Africa Safaris, Tanzania

"It was a terrible year 2020. Lets hope for better in 2021."

Karin Jones, Anastasia's Africa, United States

"We are having inquiries and a few bookings for the festive season, but big challenges with Covid-19 testing timelines. We are seeing a few new bookings for 2021."

Le Li, Sino Africa Safari, Kenya

"No business at all."

Emman Elisante, Kili Serengeti Guides, Tanzania

"100% Corona killed my business"

Emma Marije Wijnia, Shemeji Safari Tanzania, Tanzania

"We get some requests but people are not following up on them."

Adam Ayo Anael, Afrozone Kingdom Safaris, Tanzania

"Hope things will evolve into something better soon after the vaccine is distributed."

Fredrick Oketch, Fede Tours, Kenya

"No Bookings so far..."

Survey Background information

  • The responses for the surveys were collected between the following dates:
    • 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:
    • 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:
    • 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.)

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