"In two years, we lost over 50 percent of our Rand income due to the weakening of the dollar," one South African outfitter told us last month in his reply to a mini-survey we sent out to outfitters around the world. "During that time, our expenses went up. The bottom line is, we are looking at making 60 percent less that we did two years ago."
And get this from a Canadian outfitter who also replied to our survey: "We are down in revenue by $100,000 just because of the changing US/Canadian exchange rate."
The two quotes are representative of those we received from dozens of outfitters in Australia, New Zealand, Botswana, Canada, South Africa and elsewhere, who all characterized the impact of the falling dollar on their business as either "serious" or "catastrophic." One particularly poignant reply came to us from an agent/outfitter in Canada who said his profit in 2004 was "virtually non-existent." He said he was laying off office staff, cutting his convention expenses and slashing equipment expenditures. "We view 2005 as a caretaker year, hoping the US dollar will gain strength in mid or late year," he wrote.
The amount of pain being felt by outfitters around the world depends, of course, on how much their home currency has gained against the dollar (see chart) and on whether they traditionally sell their hunts in dollars. This means the entire South African hunting industry is in the doldrums, for example, but not Namibia's or Cameroon's. Namibia is getting by with only modest pain........(continued)