Fears of the coronavirus have crippled Africa’s safari industry, a survey conducted by SafariBookings has found.
The online marketplace for African safari tours conducted the survey among 361 safari tour operators to determine the impact that the fears of the virus have had on the the safari industry.
“Coronavirus outbreak has affected safari business because many clients fear the risk of contracting the virus, hence the cancellation or extension of travelling,” said Oima Paul of Four Crane Safaris in Uganda.
“Some of the clients say, ‘We want to travel to your country, but we are worried of coronavirus.’ They ask, ‘How safe is your country?'”
With most clients booking in January, February and March, the industry has seen a massive drop in bookings this year following the outbreak.
The survey found that more that 85% of tour operators were experiencing a significant decline in bookings.
Around 23% of tour operators reported losing as much as 75% of the business they normally received in February and March.
“Compared to the other years, I would say the effect is over 75%. We usually have a lot of clients and bookings in the months of January, February and March. This year it’s totally different.
“The impact is real and we feel it from all corners in the industry,” said Ann Muthui from Blue Mountain Trekking Safaris in Kenya.
Just 14% of tour operators indicated that it was still “business as usual”.
Jenieen van den Heever from Ker & Downey Africa in South Africa said it was important to highlight that Africa was not affected by the coronavirus at this stage.
“We are fortunate that we are not affected, unlike with the Ebola outbreak. Planning to travel from June and July onwards would be fine in my opinion, as by then government and authorities will have this situation under control.”
“We understand clients have a fear to travel right now but it should not deter you from planning your trip for later this year or 2021.”