The mission to revive Africa’s tourism Industry
So, in case it had slipped your mind, there has been – and continues to be – a pandemic. The incredibly contagious COVID-19 has swept across the world, practically forcing the entire planet to shut up shop. This has greatly affected individual’s lives and global economies alike, as all watched income rates tumble. As the pandemic unfolded, tourism became the most affected industry in the United Kingdom. As travel came to a halt, revenues dropped by around 90% and many jobs were lost or put at risk, as the waves and variants came and went. It was a strange moment when the country went into quarantine, a moment the economy was totally unprepared for.
But remember, missing out on our annual two weeks away didn’t just affect us. It didn’t even just extend to the workers here in the UK. Those who would have welcomed you, served you and accommodated you during your stay have also been adversely affected, as well as the businesses who inevitably missed out on your custom. Nowhere has this effect been more pronounced than across Africa.
Tourism is a vital industry that brings an irreplaceable amount of money to the vast and diverse continent of Africa. It made up 8.8% of Kenya’s economy in 2019 and 8.6% of South Africa’s economy, providing 1.5 million jobs to people across the country. Kenya had lost $750 million on tourism alone by July 2020, half of its income when compared to 2019 profits ($1.5 billion).
This is shocking enough on its own, but let’s not forget that Africa’s tourism doesn’t just bring in money for the banks. In these countries, so much of this industry’s revenue goes towards supportive and sustainable causes that directly benefit local communities and wildlife preservation efforts. This is why staying at a sustainable accommodation when you visit Africa can make such a significant change towards a community.
For example, if you book a few days at Kicheche Bush in Kenya, a portion of the money will go towards their charity, the Kicheche Trust, which provides vital education to children in the area and supports the empowerment of women. By making the sustainable choice, you will be ensuring the local community benefits from your visit, with no extra effort required on your part.
“As travel gets back on its feet, you can help the communities of Africa get back on their feet too. It’s time to see the world again.”
Covid-19 effect on Africa
Here in the UK, sporting events have opened up to spectators across the country, allowing stadiums to fill up with people again. Whilst this is a great thing for sports, it is unfortunate that international tourism has not been afforded the same benefits. This halting of international travel has had adverse effects on Africa’s people that stretch far beyond the pandemic. Charities have suffered, and are struggling to provide those in need with vital products and services, such as education, sanitary and health products, and business as well. Many sustainable destinations offer tourists the chance to visit villages and buy products from local craftspeople, but of course, that income has dried up too.
For reference, the daily rate of new infections in Namibia is under 250 per day (as of August 14th 2021), and under 400 per day in Uganda (as of August 15th 2021). Recovery rates across the continent are frequently above 90%, with the continent currently handling the pandemic well. As much as it may seem like it right now, the pandemic will not last forever. Vaccinations are still taking place and travel is slowly, but surely, opening up. As this happens, the world becomes your oyster once again – and Africa should be high up on your list of destinations.
Think about it. The weather is warm all year round, making the timing of your trip more flexible. The wildlife is amongst the most famous on Earth, with many Safaris offering the chance to see the “big 5” of Africa – lions, leopards, elephants, African buffalo and rhinos. The scenery is simply breathtaking no matter where you go, whether it’s the expansive plains of Kenya, dotted with wildlife and trees, or the luscious rainforests found in the heart of the continent. Everything about the continent is so dynamic, making every experience you have completely unique. This constant, but rewarding unpredictability is what makes Africa so special and unique.
But beyond any of that, your trip to a sustainable destination would play a big part in helping communities get back on their feet after more than a year. Your options are varied, including the likes of the Kicheche Bush camp in Kenya and their trust, or the Kazile Island Lodge in Namibia, which supports the Sijwa Project and employs local people and conservancies. Wherever you choose to go, your visit will make a huge difference to the lives of people who call Africa home.