My name is Sean and I’m the Executive Chairman of Giltedge Africa. First off, on behalf of our entire team, we’d like to say our thoughts are with you during this unimaginable and disturbing time of Covid-19. I’m thinking of you and your family and hope that you’re out of harm’s way and healthy.

The international tourism industry has been hit hard and no one quite knows what the future looks like. However, there is – for the first time – some light at the end of the tunnel. A few countries are gradually opening, and flights are resuming. Here in Southern Africa, hotels in Namibia and the Seychelles are planning to welcome visitors in July or August. As a company, we’re hopeful that this positive movement will start to encourage more tourism economies to do the same.

In South Africa, we’ve had 2 months of strict lockdown to prepare for Covid-19. We started lockdown extremely early, in late March, but as our demographics are spread out, it’s been difficult for many households. Luckily, our infection and death rates are low (11,000 and 205 respectively). So far, R9 million screenings and 350 000 tests have been done. It’s a positive way forward for South Africa as well as our neighbours Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Today I’d like to discuss your booking with Giltedge in a transparent way.

Giltedge will be 20 years old next year. Two years ago, we partnered with Accor, a listed company on the Paris stock exchange that invested in our business and bought 50% of our shareholding. A strong business with a large footprint across the world, they’re assisting us where needed to sustain us during this crisis.

A safari to Africa is unlike any holiday! It’s all about the wildlife experience with time spent in quaint coastal towns, bustling cities or beautiful regions like the Cape Winelands, followed by a beach or island extension.

As custodians of African travel, our natural heritage is critically important to us. As a team, we feel compelled to support our wildlife parks, game lodges & private game reserves. This includes anti-poaching teams and local communities who work at lodges, in the parks and reserves, or in guiding or conservation. A portion of the booking paid by you goes towards these important suppliers. Often, an employee’s salary in these communities supports up to 10 people. These costs do not disappear when tourism shuts down.

By opting to postpone your vacation with us, you’re making a huge impact on our wildlife economy, conservation and anti-poaching. The 30% upfront payment from you is used to pay these above-mentioned suppliers. We’re bound to our suppliers’ terms and conditions, be they boutique hotels, beach lodges, air-charters or private guides that we’ve contracted on your behalf. They often require non-refundable payments as they have large costs preparing for the upcoming season of travel. Some suppliers have short seasons of 5 or 6 months due to their region’s weather patterns and have invested a lot.

A portion of your payment also goes to your Africa Travel Expert who’s crafted your magical safari experience and itinerary for months. It involves meticulous planning from selecting the right property, confirming guides, transfers, finding availability, flights, routing etc. This can take weeks. Itineraries often include border crossings from South Africa to countries like Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Let’s not forget East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. Each country has different regulations and ways of operating.

The travel business is a low-margin business. We’re the broker putting all the safari puzzle pieces together but we need to pay the “lions share” upfront to our suppliers.

A cancellation of your holiday thus comes at a great cost to all the critical components mentioned above. We want you to experience Africa as soon as possible and will do everything in our power to make this happen! Our valued suppliers are being extremely flexible with postponements and taking all the necessary factors into account right up until your departure as we understand with Covid-19, things can change at a last minute’s notice.

We ask that you support our people, wildlife, local communities & tourism economy by not cancelling but postponing. We know that the wait will be worth it.

Please know, we’re preparing the country for you & look forward to your arrival as soon as possible. We will be here. Thanks for your support and stay safe.

Yours sincerely,

Sean Kritzinger and Murray Gardiner
Co-owners of Giltedge Africa

Read full statement here.