Tanzania leading the way in recovery of African tourism

19Aug 2020
Marc Nkwame
The Guardian
Tanzania leading the way in recovery of African tourism

​​​​​​​TANZANIA and Kenya stand a better chance of leading the way in revival of the African tourism industry, thanks to their decision to resume international flights.

SafariBookings.com a leading online travel market online outlet for global travel and tourism, said in a write up that there are signs that some recovery will begin, probably in the next month once the border between Tanzania and Kenya opens and as more flights are starting.

“We believe that the chances are high that business will improve by up to 50 per cent,” a study report affirms.

A total of 344 safari tour operators included in the study reported to be suffering from a 75 per cent drop on average in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to cause global upheaval.

The impact is being acutely felt in Africa's travel industry, ordinarily valued at US $12.4 billion with many parks and reserves having lost most of their revenue. Job losses are being felt in local communities which rely on the safari industry, the report noted.

SafariBookings.com, an online marketplace for African safari tours, recently ran its sixth monthly survey among safari tour operators to obtain a detailed understanding of the Covid-19 impact, with the downturn in travel.

The results were in line with five earlier surveys, with an overwhelming number of tour operators still reeling from the downturn.

“The impact of the virus is global and has been devastating for many people. Of course, the safari business in Tanzania is no exception. We have seen a decrease by more than 90 percent in bookings and requests, closing for more than four months now,” an operator stated.

 “This pandemic has affected the tourism sector to the extent that since February I have not received any quotes or bookings for safaris,” an Ugandan operator asserted.

Around 91 percent of operators said they had lost up to three quarters of bookings they normally rely upon at this time of year.

An extraordinary drop in business was experienced, with many operators unable to afford to maintain staff. A Namibian operator summed up the situation in Southern Africa, “In Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, our tourism is suffering badly without our usual international clients. Many places have closed until further notice; many people have lost their jobs. It's really sad for tourism.”

About 70 percent of operators who responded to the survey said that cancellations had increased by 75 percent or above on existing bookings. “Less than four percent said it was business as usual,” the study noted.

“Covid-19 has affected our business negatively, and caused us to lose some of our staff members as most of our clients have cancelled for this year,” a Namibian operator told us.

But a Kenyan operator even saw the pandemic as an opportunity for improvement. “The pandemic has definitely affected business in the negative. But on the other hand it has caused us to think deeper about our business model, which has resulted in us designing a more strategic model that will remain viable even in a crisis,” he declared.


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