In the midst of promoting a “nature friendly” future for South Africa’s tourism industry a number of major travel businesses in the world, including Booking.com, Expedia Group, and TripAdvisor, have issued a joint statement to the South African government today, August 26, 2022.
This comes after World Animal Protection released new research indicating that both South Africans and foreign visitors want to see an end to trophy hunting in favour of wildlife-friendly experiences.
“Here is yet more evidence that developing wildlife-friendly tourism and the removal of cruel wildlife exploitation like trophy hunting and captive lion breeding, has the potential to enhance South Africa’s international reputation as a global leader and destination for wildlife-friendly experiences,” Nick Stewart, Global Head of Campaigns for Wildlife at World Animal Protection said.
The joint statement from some of the top international travel agencies sends out a strong message that trophy hunting must now be left in the past as the consultation on the draft conservation and sustainable use of South Africa’s biodiversity white paper comes to a conclusion in September.
“There is a deafening call for change from tourists and travel companies alike. They are clearly supporting a move to protect South Africa’s iconic wildlife through alternatives that don’t harm and kill animals, such as responsible wildlife tourism. Listening to this call will make South
Africa a more attractive destination of choice for responsible travelers as well as tour operators,” Stewart stated.
Travel agencies from around the world have endorsed the joint statement, many of which are based in nations where the majority of foreign visitors to South Africa come from, like the US, UK, Australia, and Brazil.
“World Animal Protection released research into public attitudes towards trophy hunting on World Lion Day (10 August 2022). The survey included 10,900 people from around the world, including international tourists from countries who most frequently visit South Africa, and South African citizens. It revealed universally strong opposition to the blood sport and a desire to finance the protection of the nation’s iconic wildlife through non-lethal alternatives such as responsible wildlife tourism,” Stewart reiterated.
The individuals who signed the joint statement agree that trophy hunting is cruel and unacceptable and that responsible wildlife-friendly tourism, an underutilized humane alternative, can give communities income and incentives to protect animals instead of killing them for so-called sport and entertainment.
The main conclusions of the study show that 74% of international tourists agreed that making trophy hunting a major pillar of policy will harm South Africa’s reputation, and 72% would be discouraged from visiting the country altogether. They also show that 84% of international tourists agree that the South African government should prioritize wildlife-friendly tourism over trophy hunting.
According to statistics 7 out of 10 South Africans concur that if trophy hunting were outlawed, their nation would draw more tourists.
Additionally, seventy-four percent (74%) of South Africans concur that trophy hunting is inappropriate when wildlife-friendly tourism alternatives have not been effectively utilized.
The organisation is urging people to participate in the 60-day public consultation on the white paper and demand a future for South Africa that is truly wildlife-friendly.