Updated: Dec 31, 2020
As we all know all too well, 2020 was not the year anyone hoped for. What we can hope for, is that this situation teaches us (the whole world) something about compassion, collaboration, communication and that some things only can be achieved by standing together and working hard, in situations that demands something extra from us…….. So we want start off by giving all of our travelers a big pat on the back for the support you have shown us over the past 10 months!
Covid status in Africa and Tanzania
We will not make any assumptions or conclusions from a scientific point of view, as we are a safari company and not medical professionals with experience on epidemics or pandemics. So we can only report on what we see from our point of view. Based on the numbers that are released, the northern parts of Africa and South Africa have been the hardest hit regions. Central Africa and Eastern Africa (below equator) have the least amount of registered cases. This region pretty much share the same climate, which some would argue are not ideal for Covid to thrive in. Although not conclusive, there are scientific reports that shows that countries where the population have used malaria prophylaxis over time, have far less cases of Covid. This could potentially be a result of some form of herd immunity.
In Tanzania, things are pretty much “back to normal”.
This might seem strange based on the current status in Europe and America, but that is how it is. Although safari lodges and operators take preventive measures as part of their new routines, there are very few things in Tanzania indicating the world is in the middle of a pandemic. Currently, Zanzibar is buzzeling with visitors for the holidays.
Effect on people and wildlife
In an earlier blogpost, we described both the direct and indirect consequences of the pandemic in Tanzania and our region in Africa. For the people and animals in Tanzania, the consequences of the imposed outbound travel band from Europe and America, are far more damaging than the pandemic itself. Travel and tourism makes up close to 20% of the country´s GDP, and the industry hosts close to 15% of the workforce in Tanzania. With virtually no safari travelers, millions of people are without any income as there are really no efficient unemployment benefits that works.
With few, to no safari clients out on the savannah, this also increases the risk of poaching, as an “active park is a safe park”. For the part of the population that lives close to the national parks and rely on income from passing/visiting safari travelers, the temptation of poaching is all to understandable when you have no money. As we have exhorted for years; creating jobs and sustainable income in surrounding/bordering areas to national parks and other wildlife areas, is the best way to preserve the wildlife and protect it from poaching.
How is Tanzania Explorer doing, and what have we been up to?
Naturally it´s been a very tough year for us, as with the rest of our industry. We have seen far too many of our colleagues in the industry not being able to handle the situation and sadly had to close down. But we are still here, and will be here in the future. We have good set-up, and our company is built brick by brick with no demanding external investors or debt. Until September, we were still going with pretty much 100% of salary and the team. As we saw the 2nd wave in Europe and America approaching, we have since then been running at about 75%. This fall we have had some voluntary leave/vacation among our team members, but we have been able to keep all positions and no jobs are lost in our company, something that we are very proud of.
-But with few safaris and few visitors, what have we been up to?
As we are used to being pretty busy and never really had time to reach the “nice to do list”, we definitely had some tasks on our hands. Our vehicles have gotten some extra TLC (care), we have had photo-training sessions and most importantly -updates on all our routines. Naturally we also had to put in place new “emergency routines” for potential lock-down in our villa, disinfection routines of our safari vehicles etc.
We have been optimizing trips and itineraries, more extensive training of our team as well as investigating new trip-combinations, activities and lodges. We have also been preparing a very exciting recycling project in Beach Street! From March this year, we have bought a container, built recycling machines and are soon ready to start on our very own beach-clean-up project at our beach in Kawe! We are super excited about this, and more news will come as we are planning to be operational in Q1 2021.
We are known as an expert on Tanzania. And we will always have our main operation and priorities set on Tanzania, hence our name! But as we have had travelers who has been visiting us many times in Tanzania, we have also gotten requests for other countries in the past few years, from returning clients. So in the beginning of 2019 we started a project with the aim to set up a sister-company in Zimbabwe, who would handle that region the same way we have done things in Tanzania the last decade. Fortunately, we have two Zimbabweans in our Safari Planner-team, so this was perfect! We were ready to launch in the beginning of this year, but then Covid hit, so we pressed the pause button. The good thing is that this has given us a year to continue the planning and development of itineraries, conducting site-visits and picking our preferred camps and lodges. In addition to our typical varied safari adventures we are known for in Tanzania, we will do more specialized safaris in this region. From river safaris on the Zambezi River, horseback safari in Zimbabwe, to delta exploration in Botswana and desert adventure in Namibia. So stay tuned for updates!
So what are our predictions for 2021?
As this blogpost is written, Europe and America is setting negative records every day in terms of people directly affected by Covid. In Tanzania however, things are looking pretty normal and Zanzibar is pretty much full with tourists. We wish we had a crystal ball, so naturally this will be a qualified guess……but there are many things that point in a positive direction.
With 3 vaccines that now look set to be approved both in Europe and America before the new year, and in some countries the vaccination has already started, the world is surely moving in the right direction. Naturally, it will take a few months for these to have a large impact on the R-number. But the world must also move forward. There is no way the world can afford another lock-down on a global scale in 2021 as the consequences of imposed travel bans are arguably as bad as the pandemic itself. This is reflected in financial decline and millions of jobs being lost, on top of the lives that are lost to the pandemic itself.
Our prediction is that it will be a slow start to 2021 for the safari industry in Africa.
As restrictions ease, we could see a slight increase in travelers in February, when many people traditionally have a winter holiday and some prefer a warmer climate. As the effect of the vaccines kick in, in combinations with a more non-Covid friendly warmer weather arriving in the Northern hemisphere, we feel pretty positive about June and onwards. Naturally with proper measurements still in place. So we prepare for a close to normal summer of 2021, but will naturally take all precautions on our trips to ensure they are safe at all times for all our travelers. As the fall of 2021 approaches we do believe that we are back to the “new normal”.
When we started on 2020, we were almost fully booked for most part of our high seasons. Very few of our clients have cancelled their trips, meaning they are moved to 2021 or later to “open dates”. So we really do prepare and hope for a busy year. We have also experienced a steady increase of requests over the past month, and been busy producing new itineraries and travel plans, which we love!
So all in all, we have a pretty positive outlook on 2021, at least for the 2nd half of the year. We do have guests currently in Tanzania, and we have put extra measures in place to be able to conduct any kind of safari & beach adventures with immediate effect, in a safe manner. So whenever your government allows you to travel, and you feel ready -you can rest assure that we are stand-by to serve you in Tanzania!
We also want to extend a special gratitude to all our clients who have postponed their trips and not cancelled -you have directly contributed to saving jobs and income for people in a tough period.
From the bottom of our hearts -thank you!
We wish all our followers, supporters, past and future travelers, a safe Festive Season with your loved ones!