As tourism and investor interest in sub-Saharan Africa's game reserve lodging sector grows, the demand for accommodations is growing, too. Global hospitality consultants HVS have released a white paper, Learnings From and For Africa’s Game Lodge Industry, that highlights some peculiarities and challenges of the lodging industry and lists some lessons and practices for developers.
“It is interesting to note that the annual increase in absolute visits in room nights and units sold has increased steadily, but not at an alarming pace," Rishabh Thapar, senior consultant at HVS, Cape Town, said in a statement. “However, the tourism revenue has increased more than five times (over 16 percent year-on-year increase), pointing to an effective strategy that can be adopted by national parks and overall by the lodging industry. Visits to national parks cannot be a volume driven approach and hence, the rate strategy is very important."
The volume of visitors to game reserves has always been a topic of debate. Thapar said tourism can actually contribute to the conservation, local communities and the long-term sustainability of game reserves. “There is always a case to manage the visits and still extract the highest yield from tourism activities,” he added.
Looking at the opportunities ahead
Travel trends are, to an increasing degree, not being developed by successful middle-aged or the retired wealthy but by the millennials, who are looking for an "authentic experience," not just comfort and luxury. Now, luxury travel is focused on "experiencing" the world and moments that are social media worthy. The African safari experience and the excitement of spotting something natural and unexpected is not available on every continent. The popularity of tourism in the Serengeti, Mara, the Kruger National Park or Botswana are examples of this trend.
HVS expects this momentum will grow as tourism and connectivity in African wildlife destinations continues, presenting a strong investment potential for developers and wildlife conservationists. This is especially true in upcoming wildlife destinations in Africa--reserves of Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda and Zambia among others).