Zambia could lose US$223m in tourism revenue due to Covid-19


Jeff Kapembwa, Southern Times

Date Published

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LUSAKA: Zambia’s tourism sector is estimated to lose US$223 million from projected hunting revenues due to coronavirus (Covid-19).

The global pandemic has to date seen more than 1.6 million cases and more than 372,000 recoveries, data compiled by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University tallying centre  in the United States of America shows.

Italy and United States share the larger chunk of fatalities from Covid-related illness with the former totaling 18,800+,  while the United States has reported the majority of confirmed infections, hitting nearly half a million.

But Zambia, one of the highly indebted and Least Development Countries, though recorded insignificant numbers of the fatality cases recorded in Africa, is facing a challenging in bolstering its tourism sector as many opt to stay away.

Reports from local media citing the tourism ministry indicates that the loses were chiefly expected from safari hunting. Zambia has been designated as a global tourism destination and  houses the big five animals namely elephant, lion, rhinocerous, buffalo and leopard — that attract holiday makers.

Auxillia Ponga, the permanent secretary at the ministry in a report to Safari Hunting Outfitters Association (SHOAZ) said the pandemic was taking its toll on the growth of the sector with an estimated US$9 million projected to be lost.  At least an estimated US$14 million projected to have been realised from photography of the wild animals, including the Big 5, could be missed.

Ponga said while the estimated losses of US$9 million was feared to be lost from the private sector alone,  an additional US$200 million was projected to be lost too, from the wildlife sector in general. Government has stepped up measures to ensure the Covid-19 pandemic does not escalate and affect tourism, one of the lifelines of the economy.

SHOAZ vice chairperson Ibrahim Nkonde realizes the importance of the sector and saying this would ensure it played its pivotal role in preseving wildlife now and in the Covid-19 aftermath.

There is, however, variations in how professional hunting benefit Africa with some arguing that trophy hunting generates revenues of US$200 million on the African continent annually, though much remains unaccounted for because of illegal trade in trophies, including horns and elephant tusks.

According to African Lion Report, an agency of the endangered species foundation, hunters and hunting actually benefit Africa’s lions — as well as its humans. Revenues from hunting generate $200 million annually in remote rural areas of Africa.

However, communities in the areas where hunting occurs derive very little benefit from this revenue as little reaches the communities where game hunting is undertaken as well with the photographic operators.

Trophy hunting advocates present the industry as large, citing figures such as $200m in annual revenue. But in the context of national economies, the industry is tiny, contributing at best a fraction of a percent of Gross Domestic Product.  Nature based tourism does play a significant role in national development, but trophy hunting is insignificant. Across the investigated countries, trophy hunting revenue was only 1.8% of tourism revenues, the report adds.