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Coronavirus, time to “make a plan” in 2020….even a safari plan
Coronavirus, COVID-19 presently (March 2020) dominates media channels. Stirring concern and anxiety en route. So whilst nobody can predict the course, outcomes or timing of its passing there is one certainty – at some stage “Coronavirus COVID-19 chaos” will pass. (Even if the virus doesn’t).
We’ve been immediately humbled by the flexibility and adaptive responses by suppliers, partners, colleagues and clients. All in an effort to “make plans”.
Hats off to all these people with “will-do and can-do”, positive attitudes towards dealing with unprecedented challenges coming up.
So in the meantime, in proper southern African fashion, we’re out “to make a plan”.
We’ve decided not to put life on hold for starters….
- for our business, for many friends and ambassadors….also for our long-standing partners in travel, conservation and community-support across east, southern and central Africa
- right now – for our clients with upcoming safaris this season (scenarios that we’re considering)
- down the line – for clients who’ll experience some of their best moments on safari sometime in the future (how to do that)
It may not be business as usual for a while but life isn’t on hold in the meantime
Africa’s safari industry has had more than a fair share of bad press and misinformed coverages through the decades. So whilst there’s little comfort from having survived all sorts – from sorry tales of tyrants (Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, especially in 2000) to killer diseases (Fearbola in 2014, but since the 70’s actually) – the big lessons we’ve learned more than most are…
- maintain a healthy level of scepticism with the media in general (especially when mainstream thinking is in full flow)
- stay properly informed (the daily news churn isn’t necessarily the best source)
- keep perspective (some reminders about Ebola 2014 – risks on safari, thoughts on African travel)
Info sources on coronavirus that we’re watching:
- Worldometer: One of the best free reference sites for coronavirus updates – including recovery rates and meaningful statistics.
- SATSA: Southern African tourism association’s Coronavirus update. A credible authority that concentrates on inbound tourism to South Africa. Good resources. Very relevant.
- FitForTravel: a consistent and sensible source of information for travellers. Includes current information on coronavirus disease.
- World Health Organisation – information and guidance: WHO information and guidance on the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Global view.
- Coronavirus map for geeks: From the WHO dashboard. Relevant top level info from navbar. Drill down to lots of detail.
- US Department of State: Travel Advisories at a glance on a color-coded map. Some relevant links. Worth digging deeper.
- Centers for Disease Control – USA.gov: Practical advice, updates, further info for specific audiences including very precise travel information….
- Travel advice for British people from GOV.UK: Foreign & Commonwealth Office for travellers from the UK. Practical, informative links and general advice. (Some good insurance Q&A.)
- Australian Government advice: Sensible, no bull-dust, good links.
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: Facts and guidance for the EU
What we’ve learned from big shake-ups in Africa over the years
The big tremors always pass.
- Sometimes they take a long while. As was the case in Zimbabwe. Where Mugabe went completely mad in 2000, turned on every form of opposition and essentially destroyed the nation and its economy. Despite his worst, the safari sector survived and 2 decades later Zimbabwe still provides some of southern Africa’s best wilderness experiences.
- Sometimes they linger but become easier to live with. As we’ve found with terror threats. Where for example Somali pirates wreaked havoc off the East African coast from 2007 to 2013 with a few isolated incidents up to 2017. Or the al-Shabaab militant group, responsible for the 2013 shopping mall attack in Nairobi, who are still active but largely retreated from major cities.
- Sometimes they’re completely misunderstood. As was the case with the Ebola outbreak in 2014. It was serious indeed. In Africa, confined to 4 countries in West Africa. Yet it wiped out 50% of our safari business in East Africa, 30% in southern Africa for a year. All because of irrational fear. There was more Ebola in the USA (1 death) than all of our safari destinations (16 countries)?! Here’s some essential reading on “Fearbola”
- CNN’s recognition that “Fear-bola” is an airborne disease that spreads through conversation, entering your brain through your ears. Or contracted it by simply seeing images and videos about Ebola.
- The HuffPost article about the Ebola virus that went from being someone else’s problem to a homeland threat in the USA.
- Here’s a must-see take on different reactions from the US and UK during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Importantly….these big tremors always pass.
So as we’ve done before, we’re going to carry on doing just what we do best. For example authentic safaris alone in the wilderness, breathing that clean, fresh African air, open skies, no crowds, with friends. For more ideas about getting away from it all into the great wide African Wilderness see how Mark Pearson picks his perfect safari.
There are those who will have concerns and we understand that, but it pays to be sensible and keep things in perspective. Don’t spoil the trip of a lifetime without good reason. If it means postponing or booking for 2021 then let’s do that instead. (scenarios that we’re considering)
In the words of travel expert Simon Calder writing in The Independent (UK) – “An inclination to travel is much healthier. Going on holiday – or, if you feel your trip is more distinguished than that, setting out on a journey – enriches your spirit and understanding of the world. And cheers you up. Read Simon’s report here.
….or in the words of Trevor Noah on TheDailyShow
(Image credits – Crowned Cranes in Zakouma National Park courtesy Amanda DeSimone. Hammock over the water courtesy The Bushcamp Company)
Wherever in the world you are, our Zambezi community is full of easy-going travel-minded friends who take their fun seriously. Come and join the adventure.