Africa is home to some of the world’s most treasured biodiversity
hotspots and the world’s most diverse and abundant large mammal populations, making it a hotspot for nature-based tourism. And many countries have worked hard to protect millions of acres of crucial habitat. However, managing those areas effectively is costly and requires a steady stream of funding. Nature-based tourism gives communities and governments a financial reason to continue to protect these special animals and places because it brings in revenue for wildlife authorities, local economies, communities, and national governments. Tourism revenue also goes into critical conservation operations, such as poaching reduction, wildlife monitoring, endangered species protection, and, often, local community benefit sharing programs.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 decimated this vital revenue stream. According to a recently published report, tourism contributed $194.2 billion or 8.5% to Africa’s GDP in 2018. And even when restrictions eventually lift, the path forward for nature-based tourism remains lengthy and unpredictable.
The impact this has on people and communities is dire. The jobs and revenue stemming from nature-based tourism provide livelihoods for millions of rural people and create incentives for protecting wildlife and wild places. With this revenue source all but dried up, many are left with limited streams of income and face extreme hardship.
This new platform will help these communities by functioning as a matchmaker between donors and people and businesses in need, resulting in the growth and well-targeted distribution of Covid-19 emergency relief funds, stimulus packages, and other financial support.
“An African community with a united voice stands a far greater chance of elevating this issue in the global agenda, amongst the many competing demands of the pandemic,” Advani said. “The platform will strive to achieve this through strong collaboration and by elevating the voices of those most in need to build back better for people, the economy, and conservation in Africa. “
While the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated impacts will be felt for some time to come, the data gathered through this platform, the emergency relief funding secured, and the longer-term efforts to build the resilience of the nature-based tourism sector will benefit communities and nature in Africa well beyond the crisis.
Learn more about the African Nature-Based Tourism Collaborative Platform.