African Bush Camps (ABC) has launched a series of online video discussions addressing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 ripple effect on African tourism, wildlife conservation, and community support.
The first episode of the ‘Safari Talks’ series aired on April 6, mediated by freelance travel journalist Lesley Stones, and featured ABC Founder, Beks Ndlovu; from Bumi Hills Anti-poaching Unit in the Lake Kariba region, Mark Brightman; and Trust Manager of the ABC Foundation, Obert Manyeza.
Like many hospitality operators, ABC is facing the financial challenges resulting from the ban on international travel. The company has decided to keep all personnel employed during a ‘curl-up’ period and properties are in a ‘hibernation stage’ until all ports of entry are open again. ABC had to reduce staff time by at least 25% and has put a rotational schedule in place to ensure all employees could report for work during this period.
According to Manyeza, the halt on tourism has affected the ABC Foundation’s initiatives. “Luckily, with the additional help of external donors and agent partners, we can continue with the most pressing projects and put longer-term measures in place, which includes installing boreholes in villages. This helps us to show the local people our continued support, even though we are running on a limited spend.”
Asked about the anticipated duration of the current situation and solutions to long-term effects on tourism, Ndlovu said ABC was preparing for a ‘hunkering down’ period of four months before restarting operations. “For now, we are encouraging travellers to book ahead of time,” said Ndlovu. “Tourism needs it. For the basic survival of the industry and its various counterparts, the reassurance that people will retake their trips later is a shining beacon of hope.”