Nature tourism key to sustainable growth in Africa

Nature tourism key to sustainable growth in Africa

Nature and wildlife tourism is a good opportunity for African countries to grow and diversify their economies while at the same time preventing the loss of biodiversity and protecting their natural heritage.

By Endorphin Expeditions

With tourist numbers gradually increasing around the world and to Africa, now is a good time for African countries and tourism outfits to reflect on the impact of tourism, and how to make the most of the resources available, while at the same time preventing the loss of biodiversity.

Wildlife tourism in Africa has been a top international attraction over the last decade, although most African communities have not enjoyed the full benefits of nature-based tourism.

While a loss of biodiversity due to climate change is a major concern, tourism can be used as a vehicle to conserve threatened species. At the same time, tourism creates sustainable jobs and can kickstart local economies.

According to a recent report by the World Travel & Tourism Council titled Nature Positive Travel & Tourism: Travelling in harmony with nature wildlife tourism generates about USD142-million annually in entrance fees to protected areas. In Africa, nature reserves and national parks are regarded as some of the most important tourism assets.

Nature provides unique identities (Nature tourism key to sustainable growth in Africa)  

According to the report, nature provides destinations with unique identities and is a core part of their appeal to travellers.

“Even in urban destinations, nature tourism is estimated to capture around 7% of global tourism expenditure with rapid growth expanding over the last decade.

It generates revenues of over USD600-billion, providing opportunities for countries to grow and diversify their economies while protecting their biodiversity and natural heritage.

Wildlife presents the primary motivator for nature tourism, with wildlife tourism contributing USD343-billion annually and 21.8 million jobs globally.

It also contributes millions of dollars to protected areas and conservation, supports sustainable development and local community empowerment, and can drive climate change mitigation and improved governance,” the report states.

Empowering local communities (Nature tourism key to sustainable growth in Africa)

Establishing and nurturing public-private-community partnerships is essential for travel & tourism and key for sustainable development.

Supporting local sustainable operations can enhance the local economy, reduce impacts on nature, and stimulate progressive local development.

Engaging local communities can also help to define and deliver a model of nature-based tourism which positively impacts communities and informs more enabling policies and inclusive itineraries.

According to the report by the World Travel & Tourism Council businesses can also help to instil greater local environmental awareness by supporting environmental education, community- based conservation projects, and opportunities for local schools and community groups to connect with nature, for instance by visiting the countryside or national parks.

“Ensuring positive impacts for local communities through additional nature positive actions is also essential, especially in rural or disadvantaged areas and in lower income countries.

“Positive engagement with indigenous people is particularly important, with 80% of the world’s biodiversity found in indigenous lands.

“Supporting indigenous rights can be a highly effective way to protect biodiversity, enabling people with a strong connection to the land to make decisions about its use, and simultaneously creating tourism opportunities and local income generation.

“Their leadership is key to the conservation and sustainable development of their own lands, as well as ecosystems globally,” the report says.

Through collaborative and empowering engagement, tourism can help indigenous communities advance their own development and self-determination.

WhyAfrica reports about, and publishes newsletters, magazines and research reports about natural resources and the primary sectors of African economies, and the infrastructure, equipment and engineering methods needed to extract and utilise these resources in an efficient, responsible, sustainable, ethic and environmentally friendly way, so that it will benefit the people of Africa.

Furthermore, WhyAfrica promotes Africa as an investment and travel destination, analyses the continent’s business environment and investment opportunities, and reports on how the political economy of African countries affects its development.         

WhyAfrica provides you with business intelligence that matters. Africa is our business, and we want it to be yours too. To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletter or digital magazine, and for more news on Africa, visit the website at or send a direct message. WhyAfrica launched its first ever digital magazine in November 2021.

Endorphin Expeditions, an affiliate company of WhyAfrica, is a tour operator that undertakes three specialist multiday overland road trips per year and provides specialist day tours in and around Johannesburg, South Africa.   

Specialist tours:

  • Mining history and geology tour of Northern South Africa and Namibia
  • Wildlife, birding, and coastal tour of South Africa
  • Deserts of Southern Africa (Succulent and Nama Karoo, Botswana Kalahari, and Namib desert)

For more information go to

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