South Africa’s safari tour operators say the almost five-month-long lockdown has seen an almost two-third decline in their revenues which would have been crucial during the quiet, winter months.
A survey of 344 safari tour operators, conducted by SafariBookings.com sought to determine the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the industry.
The results were in line with the previous five surveys done, which found that at least 75% of tour operators are suffering from the decline in bookings.
The results also found that about 91% of operators lost at least three-quarters of the bookings they would depend on this time of the year.
Amakhala owner Grant Fowlds said: “We rely on 95% of guests coming from abroad. The high-end market relies on international travel, while SANParks and regional mid- to low-end can currently survive on the South African market.”
He said it would be interesting to see how strong the local market was in this sector. Lifestyle homes and associated game reserves in the bush, levying from wealthy owners, have survived the pandemic because levies have been paid on time.
“We had zero revenue and only kept essential gate guards, anti-poachers and wildlife monitors. Our marketing department virtually shut down, staff were put on Ters and UIF.
“At this point, most of the permanent employment personnel have been saved through tough lockdown means,” he said.
Southern Tours and Safaris owner Bongizwe Madondo said the travel industry in South Africa was dead and they had received no bookings or requests recently. It was hoped this would change early next year.
Africaventure managing director Stuart Rice said tourism operators currently needed to stop the bleeding.
There will be a bounce back but how rapidly was another question.
Kwesa Tours in Tanzania executive director Lazaro Edward said: “The coronavirus pandemic has affected my safari business largely.
“Last year, at this time, we received more than 15 enquiries and around five were converted into bookings, but we have had only two. One declined and another one is pending – but at least we are starting to get enquiries and hope it will be business as usual soon.”