The newly launched African Nature-Based Tourism Platform is seven months into its first year of a three-year project phase connecting funders to beneficiaries in 11 countries.
The platform is an innovative collaboration to channel vital COVID-19 relief and recovery funding to communities and small and medium enterprises involved in nature-based tourism in Africa.
Africa witnessed an estimated 90% drop in international tourism arrivals between April and December of 2020 (UNWTO, 2020). This translated into an estimated loss of $87 billion in revenue, 12.4 million jobs, and between 70-90% of conservation funding (WTTC, 2020).
“The COVID-19 crisis has crippled economies and industries all over the world, and nature-based tourism has been one of the leading economic casualties. For many African countries, this means a significant loss of funding for their conservation operations, local community livelihoods, and tourism enterprises,” says Dr Nikhil Advani, Project Manager.
In response, with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the African Nature-Based Tourism Platform seeks to connect funders to communities and small and medium enterprises involved in nature-based tourism in 11 African countries.
Launched in April 2021, the platform has now succeeded in conducting over 525 surveys among communities and SMEs across the project focal countries, and data suggests a reduction of 58% of the staff complement across the enterprises surveyed to date (Stats as of 18 November 2021).
The platform hosts data that has been collected using surveys to measure the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on communities and SMEs. In addition, it enhances knowledge sharing between relevant stakeholders, seeks to connect potential beneficiaries to funders, facilitates the development of funding proposals from communities and SMEs, and serves as a hub for everyone involved in the sector to share and access information.
The platform is now turning attention to funding resources available for COVID-19 relief and recovery, as well as building the longer-term resilience of the nature-based tourism sector in the region.
“The goal is to mobilize at least $15 million to support communities and SMEs to build greater resilience into the nature-based tourism business model into the future. The types of financial support we are looking to make available to beneficiaries include grants, loans, equity, and quasi-equity, among others. The sources for this financial support include governments, individual donors, institutional donors, banks, and investors, among others,” says Dr Advani.
The African NBT Platform welcomes the opportunity to further explore funding resources that will allow nature-based tourism enterprises to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in a sustainable way, and build back better to increase resilience to future shocks and stressors.