Two leading Africa safari tour specialists in Germany have filed a legal application with the Berlin Administrative Court for a temporary injunction to have the German Foreign Office’s worldwide travel warning for Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Namibia lifted.
Elangeni African Adventures from Bad Homburg and Akwaba Afrika from Leipzig from Leipzig had filed their claim on Friday, June 12. It is a suit looking to the German government and other European Union member states to lift travel warnings for Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Namibia.
A message sent by a member of the African Tourism Board (ATB) Task Force from Germany then seen by this eTN reporter said that the two African safari specialists had sought a legal order in a Berlin Administrative Court seeking for a temporary injunction to have the German Foreign Office lift the travel warning to the 4 African safari destinations.
The 2 companies said that the travel warning for Tanzania wrongly suggests that there is an acute risk to life and limb, something unfounded. Germany is a key tourist market source for Africa, while taking a leading role on wildlife and nature conservation in this continent.
“Akwaba Afrika and Elangeni African Adventures are part of a community of interests of various Africa tour operators from all over Germany, which was created with the outbreak of the Corona pandemic,” the 2 companies said in a press statement.
Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Namibia are either already open to tourists or have announced plans to open soon.
According to the initiators, the incidence of infection in these countries is significantly lower than in many European countries, while at the same time strict hygiene and containment measures are in place.
Therefore, there is “no objective safety-relevant justification for a travel warning” they said.
“Tourism is nature conservation,” said Heike van Staden, the owner of Elangeni African Adventures.
“Without income from tourism, many African countries would not be able to pay their rangers to preserve Africa’s incomparable natural diversity. Since the corona eruption and the resulting absence of tourists, poaching has increased massively in many African countries,” he added.
David Heidler, Managing Director of Akwaba Afrika, emphasized the economic impact of the travel warning.
“Maintaining the worldwide travel warning destroys livelihoods in Germany and the destinations. Entrepreneurs in Africa would be ruined by the loss of an entire travel season,” he said.
“In countries without government aid or adequate social systems, the crisis is hitting the employees of hotels and other tourism service providers hardest,” Heider said in a statement.
Although Tanzania has reopened to tourists and implemented numerous measures to prevent infection, the global travel warning suggests to consumers that there is an “acute risk to life and limb” he added.
Given the fact that Tanzania so far has reported only 509 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths, the step of the German tour operators to question the decision of the German Foreign office to issue a global travel warning for 160 countries, including all African countries is highly understandable.
“We hope that this will force our Ministry to rethink their travel warnings and analyze the situation country by country and not do it the easy way to ban all,” the 2 safari companies said.
A large number of bookings were cancelled without replacement, and the travel warning means that the order books cannot be filled with the otherwise numerous German tourists.
“Serengeti must not die, demanded once animal filmmaker Bernhard Grzimek already 61 years ago. Today it is up to the German government itself,” says Heidler.
Elangeni African Adventures was launched Germany in 2003 and is now operating services in 24 African countries including the islands in the Indian Ocean.
Akwaba Afrika has its tourism services extended to various African countries for wildlife safaris and beach holidays.
Through an open letter addressed to the all European Union (EU) member states, Elangeni African Adventures and other tourist companies in Europe and Africa said that travel cancellations to Africa would bring about a very negative impact to rural African communities.
The signatories of the open letter representing the vast majority of the Sub-Saharan Africa tourism industry and their relevant Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have proposed one amendment to EU consumer legislation that will help to ensure that Africa’s parks and wildlife as well as the lives of impoverished rural African communities are not disproportionally compromised when EU tourists cancel their visits to Africa during pandemics, global financial upheavals, or political disruption.
“Our rationale for this proposal is explained under the following sections: rural employment, poverty and poaching, biodiversity, conservation, and climate change,” they said.
Safari and nature-based tourism is often the only employer of rural communities that live in close proximity to Africa’s wildlife reserves and national parks. When a tourist elects to cancel their holiday at such a time of crisis, and their deposits are repaid in full (as per current EU travel legislation), many safari lodges, hotels, and travel operators in Sub-Saharan Africa will struggle to survive or go into liquidation.
They will be unable to pay their lease fees, their park entry fees, and staff salaries. Those lease and park entry fees contribute significantly to the managing of Africa’s parks and to the economy of neighboring communities. Many of those community members rely on lodges for employment and without it are left with no form of income at all.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated on average that one rural worker supports as many as 10 family members. Without the means to buy food, they, their families, and dependents will have little option but to turn to poaching, whether it is for meat, or for financial gain, said part of the signed letter to EU member states.
The African Tourism Board is an association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from, and within the African region. For more information and how to join, visit africantourismboard.com .