Altezza Travel and COVID Safety
How Altezza Travel faced the Global Pandemic in 2020
2020 was an anomaly in many ways, most due to the Covid-19 pandemic. From March through June of 2020, no travelers arrived in Tanzania for tourism. This was the first time in over 50 years that there were no climbers on Kilimanjaro.
Tour operators all over Tanzania encountered a difficult time and financial hardship. Some struggled to pay running costs of office space, while many could not afford to maintain the salaries of their employees.
During this time, Altezza Travel had one main priority: to save our team. Meaning, we aimed to not let go a single member of staff because we recognized that while business was struggling, individuals were facing economic difficulties, too. We are proud to say we did not reduce even a single member of our team, and have kept all of our managers, mountain guides, safari guides, drivers, cooks and other specialists.
We also didn’t just wait around for the day that travel would resume; instead we tried to use this time to improve our team and our operations. Just because the borders were closed didn’t mean we couldn’t do something with this time: we improved our mountain expeditions, planned new climbing routes, ordered equipment, developed new software, created new menus and more. We had all of our safari vehicles thoroughly serviced and provided more training to our guides. By August 2020, we had reached a new level of preparation for climbing expeditions that surpassed January of the same year.
This wasn’t an easy time for anyone, and even Altezza Travel felt discouraged by the cancellations of expeditions and growing fears around the world. However, we did not dwell on the negative, and we tried to make the most of the opportunity we had. Truly - has anyone (individual or company) ever had so much free time as we had during the peak of the pandemic in 2020? We continued to hope for the best and worked hard. We all signed with relief when international flights to Tanzania resumed. While it was nothing like previous years, it was still a glimmer of hope.
At the beginning of June 2020, we conducted the first small post-quarantine expeditions, and by January we reached the same level of expeditions that we were used to in 2019.
Refunds of deposits to travelers
If staff retention was our first priority, customer care was our close second. During the pandemic, Altezza Travel was the only travel company in Tanzania to refund 100% of travel deposits to our clients. We understood that in this situation, every dollar is important to people and we refused to penalize our guests because of a world-wide pandemic that was completely out of their control. Around the world, people had much bigger worries than canceled travel plans: some lost their jobs, their homes or had to request financial assistance from loved ones. We returned our client’s deposits right away because we felt that it was the right thing to do.
Tanzania: Safe to Travel during the Pandemic
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, international travel is slowly resuming across the globe. Unfortunately, some countries are still unpredictable for tourists: places like France, Spain and Italy are constantly changing entry requirements, allowing or denying entry to citizens of different countries. Borders open and close with little notice, and could leave travelers stranded due to government changes. For many, there is quite a risk involved in booking a trip that may be cancelled at the last moment.
Further, the risks of contracting coronavirus (and especially its new strains) have not been eliminated. Traveling to large, congested cities or staying in a foreign country presents new challenges that many travelers didn’t consider before.
One nation has taken a very different approach than Europe, and even than the rest of the world: that is Tanzania.
How is Tanzania different?
First of all the entry requirements to Tanzania are very straight-forward and not ever-changing. To enter Tanzania travelers need only a negative PCR test for coronavirus. Upon arrival, you will still need to take an express test at the airport, which costs $10.
Tanzania has a very consistent travel restriction policy. Most recently (published May 2021), health management restricted entry from arrivals coming from India. Otherwise, travel into Tanzania is open. This country is dependent on tourism and interaction with neighbouring nations, and there is no indication that they will close the border again.
The risk of contracting coronavirus in Tanzania is very small, for several reasons:
✓ The number of tourists visiting Tanzania is relatively small compared to other major travel hubs. For example, in 2019, about 30,000,000 (thirty million) people visited Barcelona, while only 1,200,000 ( one million and two hundred thousand) visited Tanzania in that same timeframe.
✓ Social Distancing is easily accomplished for safari drives and mountain treks. Travel groups stay together and do not necessarily need to have any interaction with anyone outside of the climbing team or their safari group.
During the 2020-2021 season, not a single client of Altezza Travel contracted coronavirus while traveling in national parks.
Despite these great statistics, we recommend that travelers get vaccinated before visiting Tanzania.
Vaccination of the Altezza Travel team
Fortunately, the worst part of the pandemic is over. Flights are no longer being canceled with little notice and travelers have returned to Tanzania. Most of all, we do not want this story to repeat itself, so we are doing everything in our power to reduce the risks and protect our staff, and also our future guests.
From August 10 to 20, 2021, Altezza Travel carried out vaccinations for all employees. Everyone from managers, drivers, mountain and safari guides, chefs, hotel staff and other team members received the Johnson and Johnson Jansen vaccine, which provides reliable protection after the first dose.
Other measures for protection
In addition, even before vaccination, Altezza Travel had developed a number of measures to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus in our team or to our guests.
For our climbing expeditions, safari drivers and hotel personnel we have mandated and overseen the use of antiseptic to clean work surfaces, as well as regular sanitizing of hands by all team members. Our support team is required to maintain physical distance in accordance with social distancing guidelines. We intend to uphold these rules even after the vaccination of our team, until such time as we see the disappearance of the coronavirus as a worldwide threat.
Pursuant to recommendation of the World Health Organization to revaccinate every six months during the COVID-19 pandemic, we began revaccinating our employees in 2022. Thus, from March to June 2022, all climbing teams members - guides, porters, ampers, and cooks, underwent the revaccination with The COVID-19 Comirnaty vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech is approved by the World Health Organization. It is also approved by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania along with four other vaccines and is used in 147 countries in addition to Tanzania. The data are valid as of August 2022. preparation. The company's routine revaccination is now underway, and everyone at Altezza Travel, including hotel and office employees, is undergoing it.
In addition, we continue to take reasonable precautions by checking on the health of every employee and guest arriving at our hotels, disinfecting the facilities, safari vehicles and climbing equipment, sanitizing hands for all employees, and monitoring reports from the Tanzanian Ministry of Health. With COVID-19 numbers rising again in several parts of the world, we are working even harder to stay healthy and not put our clients at risk.
Safety and comfort of our expeditions is one of the priorities of Altezza Travel. Our travelers often write about this in their reviews (which can be read here). Part of our core value of safety includes reducing risks of coronavirus and ensuring our guests have peace of mind during their amazing time in Tanzania.
If you have concerns about traveling to Tanzania at this time, whether due to travel restrictions, health risks or other reasons, please feel free to contact us and learn more about our procedures and approaches to keep you safe, and our trip-refund guarantees.
Come to Tanzania with Altezza Travel!