As the African tourism sector prepares to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism experts and researchers have recommended that we put communities and conservation at the heart of Africa’s recovery efforts.
For example, Kaddu Sebunye, CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), said that the need to sustain community livelihoods and conservation is apparent and that we should centre them in all recovery programs.
I believe that he and many others are correct when they say that. My hope now is that what they say will be realised.
Why should Africa’s tourism recovery centre on communities and conservation?
Communities and the natural environment are vital contributors to the African tourism sector. Indeed they are its backbone.
According to a report published by the World Bank Group, community-based tourism (CBT) is undertaken by around 20% of ‘adventure’ tourists to Africa. That’s about 3.8% of all tourist arrivals to the continent.
Tourists flock to Africa’s protected areas to see the world’s most spectacular wildlife in their natural habitat. A survey of 145 tour operators by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reveals that wildlife watching is the reason for 80% of visits to Africa. Conserving wildlife and their habitats can be credited for this.
Owing to the fact that conservation and community are crucial ‘assets’ upon which our tourism sector derives its livelihood, it is essential that we place them at the core of tourism recovery efforts.
African communities and conservation have been hit by COVID-19
Counting the losses from African tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, local communities and wildlife have suffered most.
Marco Lambertini, director-general of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said that “in countries like South Africa and Kenya, tourism is the revenue source for many communities as well as for protected and conserved areas such as wildlife parks, and conservation activities”.
And with COVID-19 halting tourism, the revenues have disappeared. Consequently, communities and conservation efforts have greatly been affected.
This is an excerpt from an article by Edwin Magio, originally published by The “Good Tourism” Blog.