The African tourism sector maybe on its way to recovery with the easing of travel restrictions after taking severe blows from the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the reduction of international tourists.
The sector is beginning to see semblance of what it used to be prior to the global travel restrictions the trickle of international tourists visiting choice destinations.
According to travel-reporter.com, as Africa is steadily opening up to the traveling world once more, the tourism industry is hoping beyond hope that the trickle of international tourists taking the plunge with African vacations will lead to a resurgence in interest in all things safari and a return to relative “normality” where international arrivals are concerned.
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With this renewed interest in travel and in visiting Africa comes a responsibility to ensure that we make tourism more relevant, more beneficial to all those involved in it and much kinder to the planet. If it’s one thing the COVID19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that we need a new “normal” ‐ a better one.
So it’s absolutely time to make it matter more than it ever has so that it’s sustainable and resilient.
As more and more tourism dollars flow into Africa, we need to make sure we put them to good use, selecting destinations that make a demonstrated difference to people and planet while at the same time delivering extraordinary travel experiences, as well as the opportunity to be a part of projects and practises that make a real difference to wildlife and local communities.
Call it conscious travel, or sustainable tourism, or whatever you like, this better form of tourism is not just a green movement or focused on limiting impact on Planet Earth but rather people‐based, with a firm focus on benefitting people and entire communities in the parts of Africa where tourism can be the difference between putting food on plates or going hungry. And by benefitting people we are adding value to wilderness areas, helping to protect them and the iconic wildlife that call them home.
After all, it’s people in whose hands the future of this planet rests.
Africa is blessed with some incredible eco‐friendly, community orientated destinations to choose from, with lodges and camps specifically designed to cause the least amount of damage to the environment and where the income generated by tourism flows back into local communities, stimulating economies, improving conditions for often critically impoverished people and giving them skills for life.
These lodges and camps are committed to investing in local community projects and are often entirely built out of removable structures (which leave little trace once broken down) using renewable energy solutions in often far‐flung destinations to make their impact as low as possible. So let’s look at how you can do tourism better, by working with us to put together itineraries featuring some of these amazing, pioneering and trailblazing places…
Here are a few of our top recommendations across Africa
Grootbos Nature Reserve is one of South Africa’s shining sustainable tourism examples. Located less than two hours drive from Cape Town close to Hermanus ‐ the whale watching capital of South Africa ‐ this luxury eco‐reserve offers guests 6000 acres of pristine Cape wilderness with unforgettable sea views and a commitment to conserving the natural heritage and people of this area.
When it comes to sustainable safaris, it doesn’t get much better than Tswalu Kalahari in the heart of South Africa’s “green” Kalahari region. Dedicated to restoring former farmland to a state of pristine wilderness ‐ restoring the Kalahari to itself in the process ‐ Tswalu is also deeply committed to its people and works hard in its small community to provide health, education, training and career opportunities.Tswalu also protects endangered desert‐adapted species such as desert black rhino and Kalahari lion and is a home for groundbreaking research on creatures such as the critically threatened pangolin.
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Located in one of the most striking and remote areas of Tanzania’s northern Serengeti, Sayari Camp is one of the few lodges allowed in this area and prides itself on not only being an outstanding wildlife experience but uplifting its local communities through various education projects and treading lightly in this ecologically sensitive area known for its spectacular wildebeest migration. New at Sayari Camp is an innovative solar-powered micro-brewery, the first of its kind in the bush.
Another one of Tanzania’s great ethical travel finds is Dunia Camp, situated in the Central Serengeti (also on a key migration corridor) which has just eight tented suites all constructed without the use of permanent structures, as well as being carbon neutral by offsetting its emissions through local community forestation programs. Dunia is certified by Responsible Tourism Tanzania with the highest level of “Tree”. This certifies a fully integrated responsible tourism approach embedded within daily operations.
Singita Grumeti Reserves is a shining example of an outstanding safari brand making an incredible difference in the lives of local communities while helping to protect and conserve fragile eco systems and the fauna and flora that call them home.
Through its foundation, the Grumeti Fund, it works with local communities to improve food security through projects like tilapia farms and access to water by installing pumps in each village, while instituting reforestation programs and biogas systems to reduce the need for firewood.
One of only six camps in Kenya with a ‘Gold Level’ eco‐rating and constructed entirely out of removable tent structures, Elephant Pepper Camp is the driving force behind the Mara North Conservatory which offers visitors a prime wildlife viewing destination and more than 800 Masai landowners with a stable income.
If traveling consciously is important to you then visiting Mara Plains Camp is a must as it leases land from the local Masai, supporting more than 1000 families in the process. It’s also a member of the Pack for a Purpose initiative which sees travellers making a difference to school children’s lives by bringing school supplies with them on vacation.
Up in Laikipia, The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille works with local Masai landowners who have donated half of their extensive group ranch on the edge of the Great Rift Valley to rewilding, returning it to a pristine wilderness state filled with wildlife. And in the Chyulu National Park that borders Amboseli, in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, Ol Donyo lodge is playing a pivotal role in empowering young women on the Mbirikani Group Ranch, as well as employing local Masai morans to track and protect the area’s wild lion prides.
The Wolwedans collection of camps in the Namibrand reserve close to the Namib Naukluft National Park and Sossusvlei combines low‐impact conscious travel with luxury, achingly beautiful desert scenery, and a commitment to conserving the pristine wilderness, endangered wildlife, and the people that live in the region. The Wolwedans Collection of camps are a shining example of sustainable tourism that is committed to conserving the pristine natural environment of the NamibRand Desert.
In the far north of the country, Serra Cafema Camp and Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp are situated in one of the world’s most remote, fascinating and fragile ecosystems built with environmentally sound practices that support numerous community projects involving the Himba people as well as the unique desert‐adapted lions, rhinos and elephants that inhabit this isolated wilderness.
Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge is another top ethical travel destination that combines spectacular wildlife viewing in one of the world’s top private concessions in the Okavango Delta, with luxury accommodation designed to minimally impact the environment whilst supporting the vast biodiverse land that surrounds it.
Lastly, Zarafa Camp located in the private Selinda Reserve in the north of the country, is considered one of the most environmentally friendly luxury safari camps in the world.
Constructed entirely out of canvas and recycled hardwoods, its electricity is generated by a revolutionary solar farm, whilst its drinking water is treated through UV filtration and bio gas plants recycle waste into usable cooking gas. Along with its sister properties Selinda Camp and Duba Plains Camp, it is part of Great Plains Conservation, whose foundation is doing incredible things with the communities on the periphery of the wilderness areas in which it operates.
Africa: Tourism resurges in Europe with over 12.1m international tourists, 60.9 % in 4months, and Americas 14 per cent revival, while Africa dips by -38.2 % since December.
After a very difficult 2020 induced by the pandemic the tourism sector in Europe is seeing resurgence in growth with over 12.1 million international tourists with 60.9% increase in four months from February to May 2021.
According to itij.co0m, the latest data from Butter shows that a more promising 2021 can be measured in the number of international tourists arriving each month.
Between February and March 2021, the number of tourists in Europe climbed from below 5 million to almost 6 million, a growth of 19.9 per cent. Heading into April, this number jumped up by a further 25.9 per cent before rising once again, this time by 60.9 per cent, into May when over 12.1 million international tourists entered Europe.
This recent growth means that European tourism has soared by 74.7 per cent between December 2020 and May 2021 – the biggest global bounce back of all areas.
Africa experiences drop in tourism
The American tourism industry has also seen a 14 per cent revival since December, with Asia & the Pacific seeing a total of 8.5 per cent growth in tourism and the Middle East enjoying total growth of two per cent during the same time.
The only region to experience an overall drop in tourism is Africa. With tourism having fallen by a significant -38.2 per cent between December 2020 and January 2021, the continent is yet to recover and remains -34.9 per cent below the tourism levels seen in December.
Timothy Davis, Co-Founder and CEO of Butter, commented: “The last six months really tell a tale of two halves and international tourism numbers have rebounded at quite an astounding rate since March, despite restrictions remaining in place and uncertainty deterring many from travelling.
“There is still quite some way to go before normality returns and it’s unlikely to do so this year, but the early indicators will bring hope for many across the global tourism industry that 2022 will be a far better year.”
Meanwhile, GlobalData said a desire to reconnect with family and friends after a year of stringent lockdown measures due to Covid-19 is likely greater than a leisure getaway in 2021 and should not be underestimated in travel’s recovery.