[COVID Comment] Navigating a way forward together
20 April 2020

Pain. Remain. Gain

Taking time to reflect on what we should leave behind, hold onto and create more of in our African tourism industry post COVID-19 and the global economic crisis.


The past few weeks have rattled us all to the core and challenged us both personally and professionally. Now we have been hit by oil prices dropping off the edge due to over supply and reduced demand.
Quite frankly we have ask ourselves what next? And while there has been endless talk and social media comment about how we should use this as a 'reset', I am beginning to wonder what this could look like for our African tourism industry.

Tourism does amazing things for Africa. Through offering life changing experiences for travellers, we inspire, we educate, we engage, and we empower people and communities; we conserve, we protect, and we rehabilitate wildlife and wilderness areas.

While we need tourism to thrive in the future, we should also acknowledge that our industry is not perfect. To survive we have to adapt and be agile.

To start us all thinking I am posing 12 points on the PAIN we should challenge, what is working and should REMAIN, and what we stand to GAIN through a reset.

Pain


We should all acknowledge that now is the time for a reset, and we have to be brave. We need to take bold steps and truly look at what has been putting our industry under pressure, be wise enough to acknowledge these, and brave enough to make the changes.

  1. The timescale of setting rates 18+ months in advance, is a static approach in a dynamic and unpredictable world. Should we not move from static to dynamic rates that are more responsive to market demands?

  2. What does #allinthistogether mean beyond COVID? How do we inspire participation around conservation and community initiatives to ensure a shared responsibility by all African tourism stakeholders?

  3. Often times, with multiple travel partners between the client and the product, we are over pricing ourselves. In a highly competitive global travel market can Africa sustain this model? Is it time to reconsider our booking channel structures?

  4. Excluding trade shows and visits across Africa, our sales team did over 200 days of agent meetings and over 100 flights in 2019. As eco-conscious companies should we scale down business travel and instead fully embrace online platforms (which we are now all becoming such experts at) for product training and updates?

Remain


We believe the value of the travel specialist in curating and crafting exceptional safaris remains extremely relevant, as is the voice of conservation and the commitment to protecting wild places.

  1. How do we grow our tourism footprint across Africa through developing sustainable tourism in pioneering locations (yes that means off-the-beaten-path and possibly not what the client asked for), and get support from our trade partners to include these experiences into itineraries?

  2. The Classic Portfolio website is an essential resource for trade partners, what more can we do to make this an even better resource to support your itinerary planning?

  3. First hand experience is always best, during a period of travel restrictions and the postponement of our Sustainable Africa MegaFam, what can we do to support the confidence you would gain through educational stays?

  4. For an industry that is so highly connected, we believe trade shows remain essential, in the absence of Indaba (at this stage unsure about We Are Africa) is there any alternative engagement we could consider?

Gain


This is the most exciting area of consideration for us as partners in the African tourism industry. What does our future look like and what should we be working towards?

  1. How do we embrace technology to grow the African tourism footprint with our trade partners as well as safari lodges building a direct consumer channel.

  2. Would itemised billing showing cost of lodges/camps/hotels, park and conservation fees, transport costs, and agent service fees explain the value proposition of each component in an itinerary?

  3. When, where and how should deposits due to hotels and lodges be paid and would a more streamlined policy across the industry be easier to manage going forward?

  4. As we move into a time of conscious decision making, how can we support travellers and trade partners to make more responsible choices around the destinations and products they decide to support?
While the travel industry has been the hardest hit through COVID-19 and we still have a very uncertain path ahead, let us not waste this crisis. Let us be brave and collaborate to make the necessary changes for a sustainable future. As we move away from being consumptive consumers to experience seekers, exploring through travel will be more relevant than ever before.

This is not an easy journey, and while Classic Portfolio navigates our reset, we remain more committed to our exceptional members, our trade partners, and the future of tourism in Africa.

I would love to hear from you about how you are managing your reset.

Direct email link for a message to Suzanne
Stay strong. Stay safe.
Warmest regards

Suzanne
Suzanne Bayly-Coupe
OWNER
Classic Portfolio
Sustainable Africa

#allinthistogether

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WHAT WE LOVE: The Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic, both former French colonies, are 2 of the 6 countries across which the Congo Basin expands. Second in size to the mighty Amazon, the forests of the Congo Basin contain the greatest number of mammals, primates, birds, amphibians, fish and swallowtail butterflies in Africa. More than a 1,000 species of bird can be found here. The basin is a total of 3.7 million km2 and is home to some of the largest undisturbed stands of tropical rainforest on the planet, in addition to large wetlands. Connecting two of the most iconic locations - Odzala-Kokoua and Dzanga-Sangha National Parks - within this rainforest wilderness offers the most exciting opportunity to discover a part of Africa in a truly pioneering way, while making a significant contribution to the long-term conservation and community sustainability of this region. This is no longer the 'Heart of Darkness'. This is Africa unmasked, beautiful and powerful. This is the most exciting destination to be opening to tourism. This is CONGO CONSERVATION COMPANY waiting for you to discover the most remarkable and unspoilt natural wonders of the continent.

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Here, guests will discover even more opportunities to explore the game-rich areas bordering Tarangire National Park and Lake Burunge. Forest Chem Chem is only available on an exclusive use basis with 3 vintage tents and 1 family tent. The camp comfortably sleeps up to 8 adults and 2 children. With exclusivity comes complete freedom! Forest Chem Chem is the opportunity to experience a bush camp of your own. Here, in the heart of Tanzania, are some of the most densely populated wildlife areas the country has to offer. This is due to the proximity to not one, but two national parks, and the resurrection of an ancient migratory corridor through this land as a result of the conservation work by the Chem Chem Association.

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