After a decade of decline, would Zimbabwe be the new hot safari destination in Africa? Did the situation really stabilize and how is it for tourists? Is it moral to visit the country and what is the impact of the safari industry on local communities, the environment and conservation? Ultimately, why would you choose Zimbabwe as your safari destination?
These are the issues raised by columnist Lisa Grainger in Condé Nast Traveller Magazine, and aswered with the insights of several experts, including Beks Ndlovu, CEO of African Bush Camps.
There is no doubt that Zimbabwe is the new hot African destination,’ says Chris McIntyre of Expert Africa, whose brochure devotes 16 pages to the county. By early February, 20 holidays have been booked. ‘Before, we were lucky if we got two a year,’ says McIntyre.
For [these] game populations to be maintained, tourism is essential, says Beks Ndlovu of African Bush Camps. ‘They only way the county can generate income from conservation and local communities is to bring in more foreign visitors. This will help with anti-poaching patrols; it will pay for mending fences and maintaining roads; and it will give local people an incentive to protect the game.’
To ensure that money spent in Zimbabwe goes to the community rather than to the ruling elite, it is essential to choose an appropriate tour operator, says Justin Francis of Responsible Travel. ‘Provided you choose your operators with policies for responsible tourism, your holiday will really have a positive impact locally.’ John Berry agrees: ‘Tourists who travel with responsible companies don’t line Mugabe’s pockets, except with fuel duties and some taxes.’
And is it safe to go? ‘There hasn’t been a single tourist death from political violence,’ says Ndlovu, although ‘the number of self-drives has increased substantially. So yes, it’s safe – provided you take the precautions you would in any county in Africa.’
Right now,’ say Chris McIntyre, ‘Zimbabwe is about half the price of anywhere else in Africa, the landscape is stunning and the parks are empty, and you’ll get a great reception from the local people.’
Chech out the original article here:
Zimbabwe: time to go back?
For a full insight into the way African Bush Camps sees the Zimbabwean situation and Zimbabwean assets for safari enthusiasts, check the related pages below.