One of the leading economic casualties of the COVID-19 outbreak is tourism. The impacts in Africa from a decimated tourism industry will have ripple effects into rural communities and wildlife conservation across the continent. While Africa’s leaders grapple with how to best protect and save lives while avoiding financial ruin, one of the continent’s leading industries is carrying the most onerous economic, social, and environmental burden.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation predicts that in 2020, global international tourist arrivals could decline by 20-30%. Meanwhile, tourism in Africa was the second-fastest-growing industry pre-COVID-19, with projected growth of 55% between 2017 and 2027.
Much of this growth was expected to benefit the wildlife economy, paying for park management, community conservation, and jobs for 23 million Africans — many of whom live in wildlife rich rural areas.
Revenue streams of many of the agencies managing protected areas — the backbone of biodiversity conservation — have been significantly eroded by COVID-19. Read more…