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Virtual Safari Tours Pick Up as Global Travel Hit by Restrictions

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Apr 15, 2020 8:33 AM 2 min read

The world is on lockdown, billions are being told to stay in their homes and not venture outside. For most of us, it’s a crucial health measure. But for the global travel industry, it’s a death knell. Without tourist footfalls thanks to coronavirus travel restrictions, the industry is struggling. Game reserves and safari organisers seem to have found a temporary fix through Virtual Safari tours.


Virtual Safaris are Thriving

Companies like andBeyond, SingitaLewa Wildlife etc. Have begun rolling out “virtual safaris” on social media. And the response has been overwhelming.


"Game reserves, luxury lodges and our national parks throughout South Africa, have stepped up to this new normal, to offer virtual safari experiences, put in place live-streams, conduct Q&As and curate wildlife photography, to bring the country’s amazing wildlife into homes around the world.", as per the Evening Standard.  


"Since the lockdown occurred we have seen an amazing explosion in our audience," said Graham Wallington, head of a live safari broadcaster called WildEarth, which operates out of two vehicles in game reserves bordering the world renowned famous Kruger National Park.


Engagement in the form of likes, shares and comments has skyrocketed and so have queries for physical tour packages that people are thinking of taking once the coronavirus crisis passes to experience the real thing.


View Twitch Stream of WildEarth to get a glimpse. 


Ecotourism as Enlightenment

Now, it remains to be seen how many of these zealous queries transpire to actual ticket sales in the future. But for safari companies trying to remain afloat in these trying times is not only good business but also an exercise in ecological responsibility.


In places like Africa, most of the money game reserves and wildlife sanctuaries make from tourism goes directly to conserving wildlife, most of which is endangered. A slash in tourist revenue directly translates to a slash in the conservation budget. And this invariably has a downstream effect on wildlife conservation.


Furthermore, fewer tourists also means financial strain for impoverished rural communities in such regions, which directly links to a rise in bushmeat hunting and poaching.


Therefore, virtual safaris and wildlife spotting on Instagram Live are a unique combination of smart marketing, wanderlust escapism and philanthropic calls to action.



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