However, over the past few weeks, Mr Antonelle has said anxious potential travelers with previously booked trips have postponed them until next year. He expects them to travel when a vaccine becomes widespread.
“People seemed to be okay with the cancellations from the start because they understood the severity of the pandemic,” Antonelle said. “You still understand the volatility of this pandemic, but many people who have worked remotely, at home and in quarantine really enjoy traveling.”
Intrepid’s Mr Barnes expects travelers to book shorter and shorter domestic trips near their homes over the next 18 months. However, when confidence in international travel is restored, the demand for expensive international travel will return on bucket list such as northern lights, gorilla trekking in Rwanda and climbing Mount Everest.
On a continent full of bucket list destinations, worrying about a distant recreation
Across Africa, where the tourism industry was the second fastest growing in the world prior to the pandemic, there is little domestic tourism to make up for the loss of international dollars until these travelers hit the bucket list. There are also concerns that the uncertain timing of vaccine distribution there – likely months after a rollout in other regions – will hamper the industry’s recovery.
“These mass vaccinations that we have heard about will be in the US and Europe first,” said George Gituku, the owner of Sandrage Safaris in Kenya. “It will be a while when you get to Africa and this wait will be a major challenge for all of us in the safari and travel business.”
COVAX, an international program of the World Health Organization, and the Gavi public-private health partnership, the Vaccine Alliance, are raising funds to ensure the distribution of vaccines to developing countries. They are designed to prevent a repeat of 2010 when African countries received the swine flu vaccine a year after the West.
To survive in the short term, Sandrage and other safari companies have postponed bookings until 2021, but tour operators fear that many of the hotels and lodges that have been reserved with customer deposits may not be able to hold out that long.