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The current COVID-19 outbreak has a direct disruptive effect on all travel plans this season
It might be cold comfort that we’ve had some experience with broad-reaching disruptions to the safari sector through the years. (Not before on this scale however.)
- As was the case in 2000 when Mugabe turned on the population in Zimbabwe.
- Also in 2014 with the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.
In both cases, misinformation and misguided reactions had much greater consequences for the industry than the actual incidents themselves.
- The 2020 coronavirus outbreak is undoubtedly unprecedented but it needn’t put everybody’s life on long term hold.
- So our aim is to remain calm, gather reliable facts, maintain perspective and plan for a return to normality some time later in the year.
- Our priority for clients with safaris already booked is to protect their arrangements as best as we can.
- Importantly we have long standing healthy relationships with our key suppliers across Africa. Without exception everybody on our preferred supplier list has expressed a willingness to support trip postponements without penalties.
Every safari that we run is tailor made. With multiple suppliers across different territories each situation is different and unique. So every trip is being reviewed on a case by case basis.
So these are the few scenarios that we anticipate
Scenario 1 – You’ve booked and Government or WHO advise against travelling to an African destination
- In the event that the WHO issues advisories against travelling to a country where you have a booking you’re advised to claim a refund from their personal travel insurance.
- Not all travel policies will give cancellation cover in such a situation. You should check this with your insurer.
- If an insurer won’t offer cancellation cover then in this case postponement is the best option, and we will do our utmost to make sure the trip is moved to a future date at the least inconvenience to yourself.
- Note: no countries where we offer safaris are currently subject to a travel advisory warning against travel due to Coronavirus.
Scenario 2 – You’ve booked, but there’s not advisory against travel and you’re uncomfortable about travelling
- If you cancel it’s very likely that full cancellation charges will apply.
- Travel insurance will most likely not cover you for cancellation due to ‘disinclination to travel’. Standard t’s and c’s and cancellation fees will apply.
- The alternative is to postpone. So far every preferred supplier has expressed a willingness to support postponements up to a year in advance without penalty. Price differences as a result of season changes and/or upgrades/downgrades will apply.
Scenario 3 – You’re planning to book some time in the future
- One certainty is that the COVID-19 outbreak will pass. We don’t know when but we’d expect our travel season to start recovering later this year
- Our experience after 911, the 2008/9 credit crunch and the 2014 Ebola outbreak was a fairly quick recovery with strong demand for the better, usually small camps. This has generally happened quite soon after the dust had settled. So availability became a problem.
- Under normal circumstances it’s a good idea to plan even a year advance. This way you get to secure the right places.
- Under present circumstances we’re finding that most suppliers are happy to honour current rates for advance bookings. That extends into 2021 and 2022.
- We expect that insurers will tighten up on cancellation clauses to exclude future pandemic disruptions. As with trips in all circumstances, double check that your own insurance policy is suitable for your needs.
Coronavirus 2020, it may not be business as usual for a while but life isn’t on hold in the meantime: it’s not business as usual for a while but life isn’t on hold in the meantime - coronavirus will pass. With current info sources relevant to Africa. What we’ve learned from big shake-ups in Africa – from Mugabe to Somali pirates to Ebola. (includes some dark humour on Ebola in 2014 plus Trevor Noah’s take last week.)
Picking the perfect safari: old safari favourites and journeys beyond the obvious
Planning around coronavirus: thoughts on different scenarios (a) you’ve booked and a travel advisory is issued - speak to your insurers (b) you’ve booked but there’s no advisory in place but you’re uncomfortable about travel - don’t cancel outright, speak to us about a postponement (c) you’re planning to book