SafariBookings.com, an online marketplace for African safari tours, conducted a survey among 361 safari tour operators to ascertain the impact that fears of the coronavirus are having on the safari industry. It revealed that 86% of operators have experienced a significant decline in bookings. As one operator told us, “compared to other years I would say the effect is over 75% [decrease in bookings]. We usually have a lot of clients and bookings in January, February and March and this year it’s totally different.”
In fact, more than 23% of operators reported losing at least 75% of the business they normally receive in February and March. Another operator commented, “receiving a lot of cancellations especially for April bookings. Inquiries are not coming in as has been the norm, especially for peak season (July - Oct).” Just 14% of operators said it is business as usual. This is a heavy blow for the industry and the numerous wildlife reserves that rely on its revenue.
Clients are asking questions about options to delay or cancel their safari trips, and any costs they may incur. “Our clients are now asking about cancellation policies that pertain to the bookings.”