The tourism industry in Africa needs tourism businesses to innovate how they approach wildlife and conservation to accelerate recovery of the sector.

This is according to a report from market research company, Euromonitor International. The report was compiled by the company’s Head of Travel and Tourism Research, Caroline Bremner.

Bremner detailed the impact of COVID-19 in the African and Middle Eastern region and predicted a four-year recovery period for tourism. “Business and MICE travel are set to pick up faster, with a lag for leisure, whilst the outlook for domestic tourism looks fragile, taking several years to return,” reads the report.

Particular note is made of the impact felt by wildlife tourism across Africa, with conservation efforts and community projects that are supported by tourism revenue being badly affected. Bremner reported that the added pressure on communities had increased the risk of locals turning to poaching as a source of revenue.

Post-COVID-19, innovations should focus on innovative approaches to involve African communities in wildlife tourism, according to the report.

Pre-pandemic, financial schemes that rewarded communities for dedicating land to wildlife conservation rather than resorting to poaching were established. Now, a project led by Wageningen University in The Netherlands aims to establish an approach to conservation that benefits both wildlife and humans.

One such approach being explored is the idea of a conservation basic income that would change the relationship between communities and the natural environment while helping to eradicate poverty.

Unlocking the value of wildlife tourism in Africa could be key to accelerating the tourism industry’s recovery, as, according to research compiled by Euromonitor International, 29% of global consumers valued immersive nature experiences in 2020.