Conservation has become a large part of what people look for in luxury travel these days, and it has become a crucial element in safeguarding much of Africa’s tourism offering.
In a time where products and services are available in a few clicks, luxury has become less about ‘things’ and more about the experience. Travellers are now skipping Michelin-starred meals and glamorous cities for immersive nature experiences
The shift has been timely, and most luxury offerings today have been able to strike a harmonious balance between impactful conservation efforts, top-notch service, careful craftsmanship, and refined amenities.
Luxury lodges have jumped on the conservation trend and are offering exclusive and hands-on conservation experiences from de-horning to wildlife monitoring and ‘notching’. Lodges have performed these activities behind the scenes for many years, but by inviting travellers to be part of the experience, they are able to generate important revenue that in turn helps to fund conservation projects. A win-win scenario.
A burning question for eco-tourism right now is: is the capital produced from tourism enough to be able to reverse the human effect on our planet?
“It’s a global challenge that needs global buy-in,” said Robert More, Founder and CEO at More Family Collection during a recent webinar organised by ATW. “The growth of the eco-tourism industry is essential to the preservation of untouched land at this point in time. As a conservationist at heart, I just hope this eco-tourism industry continues to grow exponentially because in doing that, we can protect vast areas of land, and in doing that, we can slow climate change and hopefully stop it within the next 3 – 5 years.”
Of course, grandiose conservation projects aren’t the only way for luxury accommodation options to be sustainable. From clever in-room energy-saving measures to farm-to-fork cuisine and electric safari vehicles, a thoughtfully integrated approach has quickly become a proven formula of high-end low-impact luxury.
Don’t greenwash luxury
In an industry growing as fast as the luxury sector is (it’s already valued at $8.8 trillion according to the World Travel & Tourism Council), there is mounting pressure on providers to build up their eco-credibility. However, the move to have-it-all can lead to greenwashing and a general mistrust from conscientious luxury consumers.
It is crucial to develop credibility slowly, remain transparent, and consider the long-term viability of certain changes within your business. Supporting conservation through luxury travel remains a delicate balance. It is a process and journey that cannot be rushed.