Africa’s Eden Tourism Association, a private sector, membership based organisation representing the tourism ecosystem in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, issued a Press Statement today imploring World Leader’s to ‘consider the science regarding the new variant and to understand the cost of travel bans on the communities, conservation and economic recovery’ of the region, before rushing ahead to implement travel bans which ultimately have dire consequences on several fronts.
In the Press Statement, Africa’s Eden confirmed that, “The Southern African region has been economically destroyed by the Covid 19 pandemic. The tourism industry, a primary generator of GDP and long term sustainability in the region has been especially hard hit. Tourism employed over 850,600 people in 2019 (WTTC, Economic Impact Report 2019) a figure since reduced by two thirds. For the first time since 2019, tourism facilities had reported significant occupancies and a positive forward booking outlook for 2022. The return to optimistic productivity was reversed in an instant on Friday 26th November 2021, and the full impact of this is yet to be determined.”
“We implore the global community to review their travel bans to the region with a focus on the human impact. Not only is the tourism economy deeply affected by the ban, leading to job losses and an impact on the socio-economic well-being of the region, but further longer-term implications such as conservation and biodiversity of the region is at stake – which will ultimately have an impact on global climate change. The region is home to one of the largest populations of african elephant, rhino, lion, wild dog and other red-list species as well as host to multiple UNESCO world heritage sites and one of the seven wonder’s, The Victoria Falls. In addition, the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), the largest transfrontier conservation area in the world, is at risk. Preservation of this vulnerable and unique natural environment is primarily funded through tourism contribution, and continued travel bans will impact continued efforts to ensure the protection of these resources.”
CEO of Africa’s Eden, Jillian Blackbeard highlighted appreciation for those “who have heeded on science and cautious understanding towards the new variant by not imposing immediate bans. We would also like to praise and continue our partnership with the airlines that have assisted with repatriation and no penalty changes or refunds for travellers.”