The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted us all in various ways. Some of us have had to work from home, others are essential workers, and many are owners of small businesses working overtime to navigate these uncharted waters.
Sonoran Outdoor Adventures is one of those, family-owned and operated small businesses based out of Phoenix, AZ. Arizona has a unique economy that strongly depends on tourism, especially in the winter months. This makes the COVID-19 Pandemic even more impactful to tour companies like SOA.
Arizona’s COVID -19 Shutdown and Small Businesses
Business for Sonoran Outdoor Adventures began to slow down as early as February with their final tour for the season not far behind on March 4th. Along with no bookings, SOA was forced to refund month’s worth of bookings for the remainder of March and April.
Sonoran Outdoor Adventures has not been alone in their struggle during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Many Arizona small businesses follow a similar model surrounding tourism from not only other Arizona residents but domestic and international travelers.
According to multiple local news sources in the Phoenix area, the Arizona tourism industry is expected to have lost upwards of 2 billion dollars in revenue. While this is alarming now, we must realize that the pandemic is far from over. Sonoran Outdoor Adventures, and many small tourism-based businesses like theirs, have lost significant revenue compared to previous years. In fact, SOA predicts losses are around 90% of the revenue from the last year.
How SOA Adapted to the Crisis
The only way for small, locally owned businesses like SOA to survive is by adapting. While the government on both local and federal levels have provided some assistance, for many, it was far from enough to keep their doors open. Many Phoenix-area restaurants and small businesses have closed their doors for good due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Thankfully, SOA has been able to stay afloat. Despite having to cancel and refund almost all of their tours since February, their innovations and willingness to work within the CDC guidelines have kept their doors open.
SOA is unique because they were able to operate, even when only essential businesses could. The reason being is that they hold their tours within recreational parks, like McDowell Mountain Regional Park, which remained operational throughout the shutdown.
Despite these allowances unique to SOA’s tour operations, no tours were being booked. Since no one was flying, hotels were empty, and tour companies were left with no customers. Even locals were mostly adhering to stay at home orders as they decided that staying home was the safest option at the time. While SOA was allowed to run tours, no tours run without people.
SOA COVID-19 Safety Precautions for Tours
With restrictions being lifted, more people are willing to book outings with local tour companies. Locals that have been cooped up for months are now itching to get outside, but there are still some worries about transmitting the virus to one another.
To keep clients safe, SOA has made all of its tours private. Private tours consist of either solo riders, families, or known friends. There are no longer mixed group tours for client safety.
Additionally, SOA is cleaning and sanitizing all equipment thoroughly before and after use. They offer mouthpieces for hydration packs for their tours, and all of the mouthpieces are new to ensure safety. All of the sanitation guidelines are in line with local government regulations and the CDC recommendations.
Beyond these safety precautions, the CDC has mentioned that outdoor activities are far safer than crowded, indoor hangouts like bars, churches, and restaurants. This is especially true for bike tours in the Sonoran Desert. Since you’re on a bike, you naturally adhere to a safe social distance to avoid a collision. This distancing, combined with the outdoor air, wind, and continued movement, provides an environment that is not hospitable to virus transmission.
How Locals Can Support SOA
Since COVID-19 severely hinders the ability to travel safely, locals will be the primary way that many tour companies stay afloat. Consider Sonoran Outdoor Adventures the “staycation” of outdoor recreation in Phoenix.
Not only with SOA, but all small businesses, locals will play a critical role in re-establishing an economy surrounding tourism. For local businesses to bounce back from the loss of revenue earlier in the year, Arizona locals can see moving around the state and their city as a safer way to travel. The great thing about Arizona is that there is so much outdoor space to explore. You can get away from crowds and still enjoy your free time in a rewarding way.
At Sonoran Outdoor Adventures, the easiest way to show support is by booking a tour. If you’ve never hiked in the Sonoran Desert or experienced the desert landscape via bike, SOA is the perfect place to learn. Let professional guides take the stress of planning where to go or which trail is best.
If you’re not sure an outdoor adventure is right for you, you may know someone that would enjoy it. Buying a gift card or booking a tour on behalf of someone else is just as helpful. Soon, Sonoran Outdoor Adventures will also be opening an online store. That way, if you’ve enjoyed a tour or want to show support as you go around town, you can get T-shirts and other merchandise supporting SOA.
Do you have questions about our current COVID-19 restrictions and protocols? Want to know more about how our tours work? Don’t hesitate to contact us! We’d love to hear from you!