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Coronavirus Devastates African Safari Market

A new survey has revealed the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the African safari industry.

Almost all tour operators are experiencing a decline of 75 per cent or more in bookings, according to SafariBookings.com.

The website conducted a survey of 443 safari tour operators to ascertain the impact that the coronavirus is having on the sector.

The figure is a significant increase compared to a first survey that was conducted in the beginning of March.

As one operator explained: “Things are very bad at the moment as the whole world is on lock-down and people are scared to book anything until the fear subsides and this virus is brought under control.”

More than 90 per cent of operators said they had lost at least 75 per cent of bookings they normally rely upon at this time of year.

More than two thirds of operators surveyed said that cancellations on existing bookings were up at least 75 per cent while less than one per cent said it was business as usual.

One Kenyan operator noted: “We are receiving about 90 per cent cancellations due to Covid-19, and no new booking requests at the moment – we have hit rock bottom.” 

The safari industry is worth US$12.4 billion annually to Africa, based on the 2018 international tourism figures  from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

The major safari countries included Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The total international tourism receipts for these seven countries was US$15.5 billion.