African Wildlife Foundation Safari Program has announced the completion of two successful, in-person, safaris in Tanzania, recently operated in August, along with its updated safari schedule for 2022.
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has designated World Tourism Day 2021 as a day to focus on “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.” For communities in Africa working on the front lines of conservation, wildlife tourism is a critical component of livelihood, and an important driver for sustainable development. Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic continue to have a social and economic impacts across the continent in protected areas, but signs of normalcy are slowly returning.
AWF Safari Program Manager Carter Smith said: “We have helped many marginalized groups, who have been impacted over the past year and a half. The decision was not easy. But after careful deliberation, we decided it was time to embrace this new normal and commence in-person travel. Too much is at stake.”
With the international community and African governments focused on preventing biodiversity loss, wildlife tourism is elevated in terms of financing conservation communities, land leases, and recourses that protect it. Before the COVID pandemic, tourism accounted for over 4% of Kenya’s GDP directly and over 10% when accounting for indirect services related to the tourism industry. In both South Africa and Tanzania, over 1.3 million jobs are linked to the tourism industry. In Rwanda, wildlife-based tourism is the highest foreign currency generator.
AWF Safaris participant Nan Kirlin said: “AWF provided an opportunity to witness first-hand the importance of their work in Africa, specifically, Tanzania. without organizations like AWF, we may not have had the amazing wildlife experience that we enjoyed. Knowing that there are folks dedicated to preservation of this piece of the planet renews my faith that humans can co-exist with the rest of the creatures on the earth.”
Carter Smith continued: “AWF Safaris was determined to get our supporters back out on safari because conservation travel is now more critical than ever. In-person tourism will help kickstart economic recovery in African countries and restore important revenue streams that fund efforts to protect wildlife and wildlands and continue to put food on the table for so many. The immensely positive feedback from our guides and camp staff of our partners Thomson and from our travelers was more than enough to show us that this restart was a bug success. At a time when most outfits are still dipping their toes back in the water, AWF operated a successful and safe return to in-person safari in Africa.”
In 2022, AWF Safaris has announced safaris in: Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.