It’s been over 20 months since the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 as a global health emergency and pandemic. It’s estimated that the resulting reductions in travel in 2020 alone wiped US$4.5 trillion from the global tourism economy and cost millions of jobs.

In Africa, half of all the people working in tourism lost their jobs. A recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report estimates a further USD$1.7-US$2.4 trillion could be lost from the global tourism sector by the end of 2021. In Africa these losses are projected at USD$170-253 billion.

Tourism is an important source of funding for managing protected areas and provides jobs for people living near national parks and wildlife. When travel to protected and conserved areas such as national parks and community conservancies is cancelled en masse, jobs and conservation management are placed at risk.

We studied several peer-reviewed studies and economic reports published over the last 12 months to examine the effects the pandemic has had on tourism to conservation areas in Africa, and to look for any signs of recovery.

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