Even in the best of times, many African nations struggle with precarious economies. The fallout from the global pandemic, however, has left those countries that rely heavily on tourism, reeling. It goes without saying that recovery is imperative.
Many of us never think about how shutting down the tourism industry impacts the economy. We just think, ‘OK, that resort/game reserve/attraction is closed, and everyone has to go home to wait out the lockdown’.
The impact on the entire country is FAR greater!
Most of these African nations don’t have government relief plans.
There are no stimulus checks sent out. No food stamp programs. No rent-relief initiatives.
The devastation goes way beyond a shuttered hotel.
This is exactly what makes tourism recovery so critical! It impacts entire populations.
At every. Single. Level.
From the tour guide to the mechanic maintaining vehicles. From waitstaff to the small business owner supplying handcrafted décor to local retailers. From the farmer growing vegetables to the schoolchild now able to attend school because his parents can afford the fees.
They are ALL impacted by our tourist spending.
It doesn’t take long for the ripple effect of tourism spending to impact local economies. When I tip the woman who has done my laundry for me, she is able to stop at the market on her way home to purchase food for her family. That vendor, whose stall was damaged in a recent storm, is able to pay for repairs. The roofer who made the repairs is then able to pay for a prescription he so desperately needs for his sick child.
And on and on it goes.
Foreign spending enables restoration projects to move forward. It supports local museums and heritage sites and allows artists and craftsmen the means to develop their skills. It gives musicians and actors an opportunity to perform for international audiences, sharing their pride and love of expression.
Clean water, a reliable source of electricity, roads that are maintained, and sewerage systems that function efficiently are all things we take for granted. It’s what we expect to experience when we travel. These expectations are what motivate destination nations to continuously improve and maintain their infrastructures.
A nation that isn’t putting its best foot forward when welcoming international visitors is sure to lose business.
It opens doors to new international partnerships for these fledgeling enterprises – a win-win for both parties. Visitors who have had a positive experience during their stay WILL spread the word. Social media is the quickest and most efficient means of sharing stunning photos, glowing reports of a beautiful hotel, and rave reviews of a tour guide. On the flip side of that, of course, is that it’s also the quickest way to get bad reviews. The tourism industry knows that full well and does all it can to garner trust and positive recommendations.
So, as you begin making reservations, planning itineraries, and packing luggage, remember this: Your long-awaited adventure isn’t just about what you experience during your stay. It’s far broader and global than that. Your trip to Africa impacts families, communities, and national economies.